FLEMINGTON, NJ – A former corrections officer at the Edna Mahan women’s prison in Union Township has been sentenced to 16 years in state prison by Judge Angela Borkowski, according to a press release from Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III.
Jason Mays, 46, of Hillside, was arrested by detectives from Kearns’ Special Victims Unit and members of the state Department of Corrections, Special Investigations Division in October, 2016. He was charged with five counts of official misconduct, one count of pattern of official misconduct, and three counts of sexual assault, all second-degree crimes.
Mays was later indicted by a Hunterdon County Grand Jury on five counts of official misconduct, one count of pattern of official misconduct and three counts of sexual assault, all second-degree crimes; two counts of criminal coercion, third degree crimes; and four counts of criminal sexual contact, fourth degree crimes. All of the charges were in connection with an investigation into allegations of official misconduct and sexual abuse occurring at Edna Mahan, the state’s only women’s prison.
Mays was arrested along with fellow Edna Mahan Corrections Officers Brian Ambroise and Ahnwar Dixon. The investigation further resulted in the subsequent arrests of Edna Mahan Senior Corrections Officers Joel Mercado and Ronald Coleman.
Mays was found guilty of two counts of second-degree official misconduct, one count of second-degree sexual assault, one count of second-degree pattern of official misconduct and one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact in May.
“Everyone is betrayed when a sworn law-enforcement officer violates the oath he or she has vowed to uphold,” Kearns said in a press release. “All inmates have a right to be safe within the institutions where we as a society demand they be detained and should be free of sexual abuse regardless of their crime. Prison staff members have complete power over inmates and can restrict their freedom and make their lives in a correctional institute unbearable. Alone and powerless, it is often impossible for inmates to refuse the demands of prison staff who wish to have sex with them. The inmates are defenseless from these injustices and it is our duty to protect them from these predators.”
In addition to the sentence ordered by the judge, Mays will be subject to all the provisions of Megan’s Law and will be under parole supervision for life - based on his conviction for sexual assault.
Mays presented letters to the court about his character, Kearns said, but they were “subjective opinions, by his family and friends, about who Mr. Mays was as a man outside the walls of Edna Mahan prison,” Kearns said. “Subjective opinions pale in comparison to the objective facts of who Mr. Mays was and what behavior he demonstrated inside the walls of Edna Mahan prison. Objectively the abuse of his authority over the women in the prison is especially heinous and cruel because the women prisoners were both powerless and helpless while subject to his ultimate authority.”
Kearns commended the detectives who worked on the case and thanked Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Daniels “for her outstanding advocacy.”
Kearns said he is “pleased with the jury’s guilty verdict,” but said it “does not diminish the physical and emotional pain suffered by the victims. I commend the victims for courageously coming forward to bring Mr. Mays to justice.”