Phil Murphy thinks a lot of Loretta Weinberg, Valerie Huttle and some of the other women leaders calling for Marcus Hicks to be removed as head of the state Corrections Department.
“It is filled with folks who have been on the right side of history,” the governor said today regarding a group of women who held a press conference earlier this week. Hicks is under fire after officers allegedly beat at least six inmates at the state’s women’s prison in January.
But the presence of Senator Weinberg, Assemblywoman Huttle and others on the “right side of history” isn’t persuading Murphy to act.
He said again that he is awaiting two investigations before taking any action.
One is a criminal probe by the Attorney General, whose office already has charged three officers.
The other is a more general examination into what happened at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Hunterdon County by Matthew Boxer, a former state comptroller.
About 30 prison employees have already been suspended. What helps make this an ongoing issue is the fact such problems at the prison have surfaced before.
But as he reiterated today, Murphy is willing to wait before taking any action,
In another legal matter, albeit a less serious one, State Police Head Pat Callahan said that mirroring a nationwide trend, fatal accidents in New Jersey were up 5.7 percent through the first three quarters of 2020. That’s a bit above the national increase of 4.6 percent.
That can seem counterintuitive, given the fact traffic volume was reduced, especially at the beginning of the pandemic.
But that’s the problem.
The “open road,” Murphy said. “These are the consequences.”
As Callahan noted, less traffic encourages more drivers to speed and the results can be tragic.
For instance, Callahan said the percentage of drivers caught going more than 90 mph increased sharply from 2019 to 2020.
On a more upbeat note, the governor is pleased that COVID metrics are moving in the right direction. Hospitalizations are down, as is the state’s positivity rate. The transmission rate remains less than 1 percent.
That prompted Murphy to say that parents and guardians of players can now attend indoor youth and high school sporting events.
He said a lot of parents are “desperate” to do that.