Democratic Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin blocked Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield, former Burlington County Sheriff, from an opportunity to sit in for a fellow Republican member of the Assembly Budget Committee and interrogate Department of Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks, Stanfield said. The embattled commissioner is scheduled to face the committee on Monday, where he will address his oversight and responsibility for the abuse taking place within the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women.
“As Burlington County Sheriff, I oversaw a law enforcement agency for 18 years, and understood the way the members of my office interacted with the community came from my direction, example, and expectation,” said Stanfield, Republican candidate for senate in LD8. “Speaker Coughlin is blocking me from directly questioning the Commissioner for the same reason he is blocking my push for impeachment – he is doing Governor Murphy’s bidding by trying to silence me – and he should have to answer for it.”
Stanfield said that if she did have the chance to directly question Hicks, her question would be clear: ‘Why don’t you hold yourself responsible for the rampant abuse and misconduct within your own department, Commissioner Hicks?’”
Stanfield continued: “After the public learned of a horrific night of violence at the prison in January, Hicks suspended a number of officers, supervisors, and the prison’s administrator. Yet Governor Murphy failed to hold Hicks accountable for the abusive culture happening under his nose and allowed him to keep his job.”
Outraged at the lack of accountability, the Burlington-based assemblywoman filed an impeachment resolution in February to remove Hicks from office. To date, she said, Speaker Coughlin has refused to move the resolution through the committee process. Coughlin defended Hicks from scrutiny again Friday afternoon by banning Stanfield from subbing in for a colleague unable to attend the hearing, she said. Requests like this occur often and are typically rubber stamped.
“Democratic male leaders in the State are protecting Marcus Hicks from being held responsible for allowing the culture of rape and physical assault to fester and grow within the walls of Edna Mahan,” said Stanfield. “They’re so busy protecting each other from public scrutiny, no one is protecting the women of Edna Mahan.”
“Governor Phil Murphy has stood by Hicks’ leadership of the Department of Corrections,” said Stanfield for Senate campaign manager Kasey Dearden. “This continues his pattern of protecting men working on his gubernatorial campaign when they were accused of rape and creating a toxic work environment. Craig Coughlin has now joined the typical Murphy administration response of protecting powerful men at the expense of abused women by barring the most qualified member of the Assembly from the hearings to question Hicks.”