U.S. Justice Department probe found sexual abuse at New Jersey women’s prison

(Reuters) – A U.S. Justice Department investigation found that prisoners were subjected to sexual abuse at a women’s prison in New Jersey, department lawyers said on Tuesday at a news conference to announce a settlement that calls for reforms at the facility.

Kristen Clarke, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said the investigation found that the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, New Jersey failed to protect prisoners from sexual abuse by facility staff.

The settlement, known as a consent decree, must be approved by a federal judge.

New Jersey has agreed to change its training and policies and allow an independent monitor to oversee reforms at the women’s prison, Clarke said.

Earlier policies at the facility deterred prisoners from reporting sexual abuse by staff due to the threat of retaliation, the Justice Department said in a court filing.

The New Jersey Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe in Boston Editing by Matthew Lewis and Paul Simao

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