Letters detail pregnancies by transgender inmates at NJ women’s prison
CLINTON — Two women are pregnant by a transgender inmate at New Jersey's only women's prison, according to letters sent to New Jersey 101.5 and confirmed by the state Department of Corrections.
More than 800 women are currently incarcerated at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Hunterdon County. And 27 are transgender.
DOC external affairs executive director Dan Sperrazza told NJ.com the relationships that led to the pregnancies were "consensual." The outlet stated NJ Advance Media received letters from prisoners "discussing the pregnancies."
New Jersey 101.5 also received letters from one inmate at Edna Mahan. The messages addressed to host Bill Spadea detail complaints about housing pre-op transgender inmates who identify as women at the prison.
One letter, dated April 7, 2022, stated one female prisoner is five months pregnant by a transgender inmate. These inmates had a history of sex acts in public areas and had to be separated, according to the letter.
It notes this pregnant inmate is not eligible for parole until 2104. The letter does not mention the woman's name and New Jersey 101.5 could not confirm this date.
While the letter mentions rumors of two other pregnancies, the state DOC confirmed only one other pregnancy. The DOC did not respond to inquiries from New Jersey 101.5 regarding its policies for pregnant inmates.
Transgender inmates in NJ prisons
New Jersey prisons began housing transgender inmates who identify as women at Edna Mahan last year as a result of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. The lawsuit followed claims from a transgender woman who said she was abused at a male prison.
However, the largest union for state corrections officers has taken issue with moving transgender women into Edna Mahan.
“We opposed this policy change believing it would be detrimental to the general population of female inmates being housed at Edna Mahan and also bring added stress to our correctional police officers assigned to this institution,” NJ PBA Local 105 President William Sullivan told NJ.com.
Rape scandal at women's prison
Gov. Phil Murphy announced last June that his administration would permanently close Edna Mahan. He said it was the only way to address the prison's "long history of abusive incidents."
Murphy's decision followed the recommendation of an investigative report by former State Comptroller Matt Boxer and the law firm Lowenstein Sandler. It found the prison's infrastructure needs significant repairs and its location makes recruiting female staff a challenge.
"A different, more centrally located facility has the potential to address these issues," the report states.
It's not clear when the state plans to close Edna Mahan, or what will happen to the female inmates. In the meantime, a federal monitor is providing oversight at the prison.