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TRENTON – Nine months after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the transfer of women prisoners from Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, the state's prison for women, to New Jersey State Prison (NJSP), a men's supermax prison, the Department of Corrections (DOC) has transferred the women back to the women's prison.
The ACLU and the ACLU of New Jersey filed the lawsuit in December 2007 challenging the DOC's transfer of a group of women prisoners to NJSP where women were held in lockdown conditions, denied basic movement in the prison, deprived of access to the prison law library and the prison school, barred from the prison's main yard and denied access to basic hygiene. In July, the New Jersey Superior Court stopped the DOC from moving more women to the men's prison and also granted the women's request to pursue their claims as a class action.
The following can be attributed to Ed Barocas, Legal Director of the ACLU of New Jersey:
"This is a victory for those women who suffered grossly unfair treatment and who wished to return to the women's prison. But this fight is not over. Indeed, a number of women have raised concerns about returning to Edna Mahan, which is often far from their families and has problematic conditions of its own."
The following can be attributed to ACLU Women's Rights Project staff attorney Mie Lewis:
"We and many community members have asked the DOC for a viable plan to house women prisoners and meet their needs, but they have not produced one. We will therefore continue to keep an eye on women incarcerated in New Jersey and will challenge unconstitutional conditions and arbitrary transfers."
More information on the case, Jones v. Hayman, including statements from women prisoners is available online at: www.aclu.org/womensrights/nj_prison/index.html