Inmate escapes from NJ’s scandal-filled women’s prison
UPDATE: Police in Clinton Township said Sunday night that the inmate was captured and returned to the prison.
Police on Sunday were searching for an inmate who had escaped from the state's only women's prison.
Hunterdon County prosecutors said that the woman had been reported missing Sunday from a minimum-security unit at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility.
Officials said the inmate had been seen near Exit 13 of Route 78 in Hunterdon County. Authorities did not release more details about the escape.
The inmate who escaped is Jessica C. Graham, who was sentenced in June to five years in prison for third-degree criminal mischief that involved fire-related damage of more than $2,000 in 2018 in Union County, according to Department of Correction records. She would be eligible for parole as early as February.
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Graham's known aliases include Jessica Szabo and Jessica Toussaint, correctional records show.
She is 5 foot 5, 135 pounds with brown hair and black eyes.
The Murphy administration is planning to shut down this prison after prosecutors and federal investigators revealed routine and pervasive sexual and physical abuse of women inmates by correctional officers and staff.
More than a dozen prison staffers have been criminally charged in recent years with violence against women — most recently this month when Tyrell Harris-McLaughlin, 28, was charged with sexual assault and official misconduct that reportedly occurred in September.
After the series of sex-abuse arrests in previous years, another 10 officers were charged several women were seriously injured in January when the officers forcibly removed them from their cells.
The scandals resulted in bipartisan outrage against Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks, who finally resigned under pressure in June. Gov. Phil Murphy never publicly criticized Hicks but announced the drastic step of eventually shuttering the prison.