New Jersey Prisoner Reports

Rarely does the public hear directly from prisoners about prison conditions.

CLASP’s mission is to change that.

On December 6th 2016, the American Friends Service Committee’s Prison Watch Community Oversight Initiative published the first issue of From The Inside Out.

We took the data from this report to create:

  1. a searchable database of anonymous testimonies by New Jersey prisoners
  2. digital graphics featuring paraphrased quotes by New Jersey prisoners.
  3. that can be shared on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and on a website

Please feel free to share the New Jersey Prisoner Reports database, the prisoner testimony graphics, as well as the AFSC’s Prison Watch Project’s report.

New Jersey Prisoner Reports

  • S.

    East Jersey State Prison

    05/12/16

    • Nutritional Deprivation
    • Medical Care
    • Free Exercise of Religion

    “Refusal of food services personnel to implement medical orders, of long standing, that govern a special kosher diet.”

  • K.

    East Jersey State Prison

    10/14/16

    • Conditions of Confinement: Physical Environment
    • Health

    “The infrastructure of the prison is terrible…There is mold…It literally rains inside whenever it is raining outside. Some cells have broken windows, which presents an obvious problem in the winter.”

  • K.

    East Jersey State Prison

    10/14/16

    • Access to the Courts

    “The law library is in terrible shape. Currently, there are two working computers, (three are not working). These computers allow access to Lexisnexis software, but you cannot download any cases from the Lexis for use on your personal word processor. Hard copies of cases cost ten cents per page. The computers do not have any word processor program. Paralegals do not readily assist inmates; In fact, paralegals work in an area that is separated from the law library. Basically, Rahway’s Law Library is a self service operation with very limited resources.”

  • K.

    East Jersey State Prison

    01/11/17

    • Physical Assault
    • Environmental Conditions

    “In 2013…I was attacked by a cellmate. He threw hot water on me which caused serious burns. After the hot water was thrown on me, I was taken to a hospital outside the prison. [When I returned] I was placed in a detention cell…an isolated ‘dry cell’ in the prison infirmary. In this cell, there was no bed, only a 2 or 3 inch mattress on the floor. There was no other furniture. As for fixtures, there was a sink connected to a toilet, but the toilet was flushed from outside the cell. The cell itself was filthy, with dry feces smeared on the walls. My teeth were chattering and I was trembling, that’s how cold it was. Eventually, I was given two sheets and a blanket which provided little protection from the cold.”

  • S.

    East Jersey State Prison

    03/28/17

    • Nutritional Diet
    • Religious Practice

    “I am writing to request that you review a concern raised by me about the refusal of food services personnel to implement medical orders, of long standing , that govern a special kosher diet”

  • N.

    East Jersey State Prison

    03/26/17

    • Medical Transportation
    • Quality Assurance of Medical Services

    “NJDOC prisoner transport vehicles present one of the greatest threats to traffic safety in New Jersey. Carrying up to 15 passengers and weighing 10,000 or more pounds, these vehicles are operated at excessive and dangerous speeds by Corrections personnel who are often eating, smoking, or talking/texting on a cell phone. The doctor in charge here in 2014 told me 7 out of 10 inmates refused medical trips in those vans.”

  • N.

    East Jersey State Prison

    03/26/17

    • Medical Transportation
    • Quality Assurance of Medical Services

    “There was also an audit of medical services happening by a group called the Correctional Medical Association and the DOC posted no notice until the day the auditors arrived, (according to the notice you were supposed to write the Association with comments at least 6 weeks before the audit). East Jersey (prison) passed the audit, and continued to be accredited by the organization. No surprise.”

  • D.

    East Jersey State Prison

    05/07/17

    • Medical Conditions

    “Here at East Jersey the medical conditions are poor. Doctor Winestsky says that his only job that was told to him by the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections is to give advice and to not treat the inmates here at East Jersey State Prison, and that has been shown to me by this Doctor. I have been putting in MR-007 forms (medical request slips) since August 2016 telling them I have a knot on my right rib cage and that my neck and knees have sharp pains that wake me up out of my sleep and hurt so bad they make me cry. On 4-18-17, I went again for the same issues that I had just went for on March 17, 2017, then March 31, 2017 the Doctor only solution is giving therapy now which don’t work and his advice he says was ordered by the D.O.C. Commissioner of New Jersey, the doctor also stated that he is leaving on May 18, 2017 to go mess others lives up with good advice. What that means can only be determined by his comments. It shows you the poor medical conditions here. Therapy is being conducted in the same area on the beds that have patients that are committed in the medical unit and some people have shoulder injuries that need rehab, they use the office doors the nurses sit in so if there’s an emergency they are stuck inside until the person receiving therapy is done.”

  • C.

    East Jersey State Prison

    05/20/17

    • Medical Neglect

    “The D.O.C. operated on my left knee twice, removing torn cartilage, neither time was rehab or follow-up provided, and the leg continued to deteriorate over the years. Complaints were ignored. In may 2014 a number of loose bodies (pieces of cartilage) were removed from the knee surgically. The surgeon made it clear that I required a knee replacement but he did not want to do it because I was ‘too young’ in his words… later a swelling the size of a golf ball appeared on the knee and refused to go away. I was examined by a doctor at South Woods who referred it back to the orthopedic surgeon since it appeared to be a post-surgical issue of some kind. Later that week I was transferred to Northern State Prison, and the same determination was made. Both South Woods and Northern State referred me back to the surgeon, but When I arrived at East Jersey they gave me a knee brace and canceled the appointment with the surgeon. I was called down to medical and informed of this and charged a $5.00 co-pay for the experience. The knee continues to worsen.”

  • R.

    East Jersey State Prison

    05/27/17

    • Medical Neglect

    “Over the previous couple years it has become increasingly difficult to fully extend my right arm. The elbow only extends partially, then locks up. Medical services here at East Jersey have called it ‘arthritis’, but have done nothing more than xray which they determined to be ‘inconclusive’. Meanwhile, marble size bumps have appeared along the forearm of the same arm, and medical has only said ‘it must be scar tissue’. Medical is indifferent to the fact.”

  • J.

    East Jersey State Prison

    05/26/17

    • Medical Neglect

    “I seriously injured my left arm when it was trapped between rack of water-filled plastic bags which had been made in case of emergency. (It was during the hurricane warning). The arm was shredded from the bicep to the fingers with a major loss of blood. After emergency treatment at the local hospital, I received dozens of dissolving sutures and was returned to the prison. I started physical therapy a short time later, and was beginning to regain usage of the arm when I was transferred to East Jersey. I have received no treatment since that time and have been told that ‘therapy is unavailable here.”

  • J.

    Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women

    10/11/16

    • Conditions of Confinement: Lack of Privacy

    “I am sick a lot and when you go into the hospital, which is in the max compound, they strip search you. Sometimes you are being strip searched with other women, I find this very upsetting.”

  • J.

    Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women

    02/18/17

    • Sexual Assault

    “Pat down issues: breasts are touched/jerked up by female CO’s. Inappropriate touching. Some of us are targeted by some CO’s harassment…strip searches in bathroom in front of a window with no curtain, no privacy. Any employee can easily see in.”

  • J.

    Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women

    10/14/16

    • Sexual Abuse
    • Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Violation

    “They took another guard out of here in handcuffs the other day for having a sexual relationship with a prisoner. In this case, unlike other cases, the woman wanted to see him.”

  • J.

    Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women

    02/18/17

    • Right to Medical Treatment

    “Hypoglycemia is not recognized to have snack bags like the diabetics get. I’ve had numerous low blood sugar episodes, very dangerous.”

  • J.

    Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women

    02/18/17

    • Conditions of Confinement

    “Ad seg: dungeon-like conditions. Dark, filthy, not climate-controlled for winter or summer seasons.”

  • J.

    Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women

    01/01/17

    • Overmedication
    • Right to Psychiatric Care and Treatment

    “Medical personnel drug the prisoners as much as possible here – the reason? If the prisoners sleep the majority of the time, the officers jobs are much easier. Also it doesn’t matter what they do or say to a prisoner, because they are not in their right state of mind (because of the meds) and can’t report the officers, or they are not believed if they do report Many of the medicated prisoners will end up in the Mental Health ward – because of other prisoners complaints about them going to the bathroom on themselves, or not showering.”

  • D.S.

    Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women

    01/01/17

    • Medical Transparency
    • Lack of Informed Consent

    “Medical does not explain your x-rays, or any of the treatment they suggest – if you have an untreatable disease, they will not tell you. When you do request (and PAY for your medical records, and then question why you were not told something – they blow you off, and pretend they knew nothing.”

  • J.

    Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women

    06/01/17

    • Delay in Treatment

    “I went for an MRI on my lower abdomen (which had been giving me severe pain and which I had been complaining about) for over a year. [A month later] I was told there were 2 “small tumors” found below my liver, but the tumors were “benign.” [A month later] I have been informed that I have been scheduled for a Biopsy, because it is unknown if the tumors are “Cancerous”…This is a serious health issue …I have also been complaining about a lump in my throat right by my thyroid gland for over one…month, all that was done was some blood work and I was given some antibiotics, but the lump remains.”

  • Anon

    Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women

    06/01/17

    • Failure to Coordinate Treatment

    “I am diagnosed with (multiple mental illnesses).For the better part of my life I have been in and out of mental health hospitals, MICA programs, in psychiatric wards and have had many suicide attempts. About a year ago I was diagnosed with ITP (low platelets)…Due to this mental health has taken me off all my psych medication…I struggle everyday without being medicated for my mental health issues…(I also get medication) for pain being that I suffer from arthritis and back surgery. The medical Dr. here took me off (medication) due to alleged allegations of trying to cheek my medication, with no institutional charges… I constantly go back and forth with the mental health and medical Dr…Mental health won’t prescribe it and medical won’t give it back to me. They periodically give me Tylenol which is counter productive due to the fact that that they just put me on … for my …treatment. I suffer every day in my mind trying to conquer my thoughts from depression. When all I need them to do would be to prescribe me a medication that would greatly improve my mental health. The psychiatrist… says I won’t die from depression, but he fails to realize I can choose to take my life trying to fight my demons. I do not feel mental health or medical is properly addressing my needs…I cry daily. I have no motivation or hope for my future. Dr. told me I would be better off at home because my psych and Hematologist would be in better contact with each other. When I asked (the doctor) to document this for the parole hearing he said he couldn’t because it was against D.O.C. Since seeing parole I received a 16 month hit…I fought really hard for my HEP C treatment, they wasn’t going to give it to me at first. I was put on a waiting list for a year, only to be taken off the list…for another year before I finally received treatment 9 months later…. The psych Dr. even told me that s/he was surprised they DOC was even given… this treatment because it is so expensive…they (also) give me Tylenol, which is bad for the liver. Then nurses give me Motrin…and I bleed from the inside. I believe had I not made a big stink I wouldn’t have gotten the [medication].”

  • I.

    New Jersey State Prison

    09/12/16

    • Mail Tampering
    • Access to the Courts
    • Violation of Court Rulings and Department Rules
    • Sexual Abuse
    • Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Violation

    “My legal mail has been opened out of my presence over forty times in three years. I have had three separate officers touch me in an inappropriate way during a search three times.”

  • J.

    New Jersey State Prison

    09/19/16

    • First Amendment
    • Access to the Courts

    “The prison officials withheld the June issue of Prison Legal News (magazine) from prisoners. According to a source, the magazine contained an article about Double locking in N.J. state Prison.”

  • A.

    New Jersey State Prison

    10/14/16

    • Criminal Offense (unspecified)
    • Unjustified Destruction of Property Without Compensation
    • First Amendment
    • Retaliation

    “I have become a victim of a number of crimes starting with the total destruction of all of my property… because I got two C.O.’s in trouble… and now I feel that my life’s in danger.”

  • J.

    New Jersey State Prison

    10/25/16

    • Conditions of confinement: Isolation – Cruel and Unusual Punishment
    • Possible Violation of Department (DOC) Placement Rule

    “Call from Involuntary Protective Custody Unit. Reports struggling with the isolation. Also reported that a number of people from southern prisons are requesting a change in status to protective custody in order to be moved closer to family. Once it is determined that they do not need PC, they are placed in Involuntary PC, which he is calling torture.”

  • I.

    New Jersey State Prison

    10/27/16

    • Nutritional Deprivation

    “I am experiencing a very nasty chemical mediciny taste in my food. I feel very tired and bad after I eat.”

  • D.

    New Jersey State Prison

    10/28/16

    • Violation of Department Rule (Cell Searches)

    D. reported that his cell had been “tossed” and was very upset. We called the Department and by Sunday (10/31) he had all of his possessions back and e-mailed to thank us and let us know.

  • A.

    New Jersey State Prison

    11/01/16

    • Violation of Prison Rules
    • Prisoner Assault
    • Solitary Confinement (“No Touch Torture”)
    • Violation of Rules Governing the Isolation of Prisoners with Mental Illness

    From someone reporting on another prisoner in 2EE, a mental health/special needs unit: “R., who was on constant watch to prevent suicide, was challenged to a fight by a CO. The CO went into his cell and assaulted (him), without provocation.”

    R was placed on 7 wing, in a disciplinary segregation unit. R was not charged, which is unusual under the circumstance. Prisoners report that assaults by corrections officers are often covered up, by calling a suicide code to justify entering a cell without supervision by a Sgt., assaulting a prisoner and then issuing an assault code to justify the prisoner-victim’s injuries., The alleged assault by the prisoner-victim then becomes the basis for a disciplinary charges against the prisoner-victim, who is subject to a kangaroo court hearing, sanctioned, and then placed in a non-mental health solitary confinement cell, without the proper clinician screening required by the Department’s regulations.

  • A.

    New Jersey State Prison

    11/14/16

    • Assault
    • Medical Care

    “Officer Daniel assaulted me by punching me in the face, then I fell to the metal bed frame and assumed the fetal position to protect myself…I’m constantly in pain.”

  • A.

    New Jersey State Prison

    11/14/16

    • Conditions of Confinement: Physical Environment

    “The walls (of the cell) have dried spit, blood, and feces on them…”

  • S.

    New Jersey State Prison

    11/08/16

    • Internal Investigation
    • Placement Hearing Deficiencies

    Custody/SID has demonstrated a lack of respect and abuse of power. Placing this inmate on involuntary protective custody because of hearsay is unconstitutional.

  • E.

    Northern State Prison

    08/23/16

    • Cruel and Unusual Punishment

    “We were forced to lie, face first, in shorts, short sleeved shirts and skin contacting the hot blacktop, nothing short of torture. All the while, I heard staff standing around us laughing…Being forced to lay on the hot blacktop, literally burning, with gravel penetrating our skin…This behavior violates the very premise of the eighth amendment prohibitions to the U.S. Constitution.”

  • E.

    Northern State Prison

    09/06/16

    • Conditions of Confinement
    • Violation of DOC Grievance Regulations

    “I submitted a remedy referencing my complaint. I however did not get any response…This is the norm here.”

  • B.

    Northern State Prison

    10/02/16

    • Conditions of Confinement: Isolation
    • Cruel and Unusual Punishment
    • Solitary Confinement (“No Touch Torture”)

    “Not only have I been a victim of retaliation, and denial of communication; I have suffered from conditions such as being naked in a supervision unit/suicide watch cell with no mattress or sheets and blanket, 24 hour video surveillance, no toilet paper, no utensils for food, 24 hour lighting in a 24 hour air conditioned cell.”

  • B. and T.

    Northern State Prison

    11/03/16

    • Conditions of Confinement: Physical Environment
    • Deficient Grievance System

    “Thick black mold has accumulated in the cell, and the bunk structures are rusty…The mold in the cell was painted over, instead of removed…Rain still comes into the cell, primarily drenching the bottom bunk.”

    The men are not being allowed access to the unit kiosk to communicate with people outside the prison. B. and T. have tried to gain relief from this situation by speaking to the area Sgts. and the ombudsman, without response (yet). We have contacted the ombudsman about their situation. They are only allowed to submit grievances every 6 days (if the kiosks works).

  • W.

    Northern State Prison

    11/08/16

    • Illegal Detention and Abuse

    W. has served his 30 year sentence and is now being held without explanation. He was recently beaten by one or more guards and is now in the infirmary. We think that the prison is illegally retaining him in custody until his physical injuries from the abuse are less overt.

  • W.

    Northern State Prison

    11/14/16

    • Human Rights Abuses: Cruel and Unusual Punishment
    • Access to the Courts
    • Retaliation

    “My mail is constantly intercepted by…Department of Corrections.”

    “I was sexually assaulted by officers in administrative segregation and assaulted by officers and a Sgt.”

    “None of my mail or legal mail was getting sent out by Northern State Prison.”

    “Blacks were not being fed in N.S.P. (Northern State Prison) ad-seg and the Ombudsman at that time that worked ad-seg was pro police so if you wrote up a c.o. She would give it to the c.o. The c.o. would either break all the persons property or call the person out to a medical and take them in a blind spot and beat the inmate bad.”

    “A guy murdered his cellie after constantly asking to be moved.”

    “I suffer from seizures and the left side of my body works when it wants to due to a stroke I didn’t know that I had until examined by a doctor.”

    “I watched inmates get stomped out by the police various times in here and most of these nurses and doctors will cover the stuff up.”

  • W.

    Northern State Prison

    11/14/16

    • Conditions of Confinement

    “I recently went to lock up for refusing to lock in a cell that is upstairs when I’m bottom bunk only and show[ed] the c.o. my paperwork, I was wearing a helmet and walking with a cane I was still sent to lock up. I have paperwork from a judge stating I am not to be housed in N.S.P. I showed it to classification they said judges don’t have say over us.”

  • J.

    South Woods Prison

    10/14/16

    • Conditions of Confinement
    • Family Support

    “This spot is the only spot in the state who doesn’t receive a real food package; but instead we can order two subs.”

    “This spot is the only spot in the State that we can not take pictures with our family.”

  • N.

    South Woods Prison

    02/21/17

    • Access to the Courts

    “They continue to close the Law Library, saying that they are understaffed. Meanwhile, prisoners are not being afforded the right to work on our ongoing legal appeals and actions for weeks at a time.”

  • C.

    Bayside, Southern State Prison

    10/23/16

    • Environmental Abuse

    Quoted from the Bayside and Southern State Correctional Facility Public Notice (05/2016): “The Bayside State Prison Water Treatment Plant is required to monitor Wells 1-5 for volatile Organic Compounds and Inorganic compounds. On February 22, 2016 the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a compliance evaluation and assistance inspection. The evaluation found that the facility failed to monitor for Inorganics and Volatile Organic Compounds during the Federal compliance period of 2014-2016.”

  • M.

    Bayside, Southern State Prison

    01/17/17

    • Equal Protection

    “I was residing at Bayside State Prison for three years and I endured discrimination for jobs that I was overqualified for.”

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The New Jersey Prisoner Reports is a searchable, online database developed in December 2016 by Billimarie Lubiano Robinson (CLASP). It is populated by the data provided in From The Inside Out (by the American Friends Service Committee’s Prison Watch Community Oversight Initiative Program Director Bonnie Kerness, Intern Rachel Frome, and Intern Marshall Justice Rountree; further assistance by Jean Ross, Esq., Kunal Sharma, Esq. (CLASP) and Billimarie Lubiano Robinson).

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To view the original report: From The Inside Out (pdf). For raw data, view the Google Spreadsheet.

If you have any questions, comments, or would like to add a report, please send an email.

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Support creative, investigative prison journalism projects (like the New Jersey Prisoner Reports).