Avril Richardson has been charged with second-degree sexual assault for her sexual relationship with an inmate at Northern State Prison.
According to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Richardson maintained a long-term sexual relationship with an inmate under her supervision from 2016 until her arrest on Thursday. Because New Jersey state law acknowledges the inappropriate power dynamic by forbidding prisoners from giving consent, she is being charged with sexual assault.
Richardson worked as a corrections officer for 11 years before the Department of Corrections’ Special Investigations Division discovered the “relationship.” According to Assistant Prosecutor Jessica L. Apostolou. she was held overnight at the Essex County jail in Newark, and is scheduled to be set free on Friday.
She will have her day in court on January 11, 2019.
Sadly, this is far from isolated. The assault of prisoners by staff is a widespread problem, and frequently goes without prosecution. In 2012, a study found that roughly 4-10% of inmates are sexually assaulted during their sentence.