Correctional Officer Tyrell Harris-McLaughlin was arrested today for sexually assaulting an inmate at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey. He faces charges of 2nd Degree Sexual Assault and Official Misconduct. This is just the latest of many recent scandals to rock that prison.
The abuse is reported to involve vaginal penetration with ejaculation and an invasive medical procedure. That last one was conducted by medical staff for the purpose of getting a DNA sample which was later matched to Harris-McLaughlin. We are not sure if Harris-McLaughlin physically forced himself on the victim at this time. In New Jersey someone can commit 2nd Degree Sexual Assault if "The victim is on probation or parole, or is detained in a hospital, prison or other institution and the actor has supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim by virtue of the actor's legal, professional or occupational status;" (https://codes.findlaw.com/nj/title-2c-the-new-jersey-code-of-criminal-justice/nj-st-sect-2c-14-2.html). The statutory scheme suggests that had physical force or coercion been used that Harris-McLaughlin's conduct would have constituted aggravated sexual assault which is a crime in the first degree. It is all too common for correctional officers to have sexual relationships with inmates, but even though such relationships would be considered consensual in society, an inmate is considered legally incapable of giving consent due to disability of incarceration. Disability of incarceration is often put in the same category as other forms of disability such as being unconscious, under age, or mentally disabled.
Most cases of guard/prisoner relations take place in men's prisons with female officers and are largely unreported because the men are the suitors, do their best to seduce the women, and are quite happy when they submit. That is not to say that there are not cases of female guards coercing sex from male inmates, but they are extremely rare. By virtue of being incarcerated even the fugliest of females become more desirable over time. Women incapable of attracting a man in the world become viable options for incarcerated men whose only alternatives are their hands and other men. When this author was incarcerated in the Columbia County Jail in St. Helens, Oregon the top female cook suddenly stopped coming to work. It turned out she was caught having a good time with some of the guys working in the kitchen. One look at her was all it took to see why she would set her standards so low. Everyone missed her cookies.
Earlier this year 10 officers were arrested after a video (embedded below) surfaced showing them using excessive force including brutal beatings to conduct unnecessary cell extractions (https://www.nj.com/hunterdon/2021/04/10-officers-at-scandal-plagued-nj-womens-prison-have-now-been-charged-over-inmate-beatings.html). Those officers are Jose Irizarry, Courey James, Gustavo Sarmiento Jr., Tara Wallace, Lt. Eddie Molina, Luis Garcia, and Sergeants Amir Bethea, Anthony Valvano, Matthew Faschan and Andraia Bridges. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has pledged to close the prison, but he has a problem, Edna Mahan is the state's only women's prison. The state will have to build a new prison or convert a men's prison either of which takes time.
According to public records, Tyrell Harris-McLaughlin is a 28 year old resident of Brooklyn, New York. He is a registered Democrat with no prior criminal record.