In Memory of Senior Corrections Officer Maria Gibbs
New Jersey Loses Corrections Officer to COVID19
On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, the New Jersey Department of Corrections came forward to brief the public about the loss of one of their corrections officers. Since the start of the pandemic, we learned that certain occupations put individuals at a greater risk of contracting the virus. First responders, law enforcement, and corrections officials were most at risk.
Senior Corrections Officer Maria Gibbs, age 47, died from complications arising from contracting the coronavirus. It is most likely that she contracted the virus while on the Central Reception and Assignment Facility job, where she worked with incoming prisoners.
Corrections officers across the country have been lost in record numbers. The numbers are higher than in any period of US history. Some states have lost more than 30 corrections officers to the virus. Facilities that hold inmates were at considerable risk due to the inability of prisoners to practice social distancing. These facilities were major hot spots across the country. The officers continued to do their duty despite the threat to their lives, family, and community. Communities surrounding these facilities had higher than average outbreaks of the virus.
Officer Gibbs served the community and New Jersey residents through her work as a corrections officer with the New Jersey Department of Corrections for 19 years. She is the third corrections officer in New Jersey to die from the virus.
New Jersey Department of Corrections
Officer Gibbs worked with the NJDOC or New Jersey Department of Corrections. The NJDOC is a state agency responsible for the oversight and management of corrections facilities in the state of New Jersey.
NJDOC operates thirteen correctional facilities. The facilities include seven adult male prisons, three youth correctional facilities, one woman’s prison, a sex offender facility, and the intake facility called Central Reception. The Central Reception facility is the one that Officer Gibbs was last assigned.
All facilities combined hold approximately 20,000 offenders. The facilities offer education programs, counseling, and drug treatment for offenders. The prisoners can also gain experience in a variety of employment areas. These programs are designed to help ease the offenders’ re-entry into society and reduce recidivism.
Central Reception and Assignment Facility – Trenton
Located in Mercer County, the Central Reception and Assignment Facility is responsible for offender intake. Here the prisoners are adjusted to prison life. They undergo psychological evaluations, educational testing, physical exams, and dental treatment. Once they are evaluated thoroughly, then the offenders are assigned to a more permanent facility.
The facility is also a part of Jones Farm. Jones Farm is a minimum-security facility that houses inmates that are serving short terms. The average sentence served in New Jersey is six years.
Senior Corrections Officer Maria Gibbs leaves behind her husband and four children. Officer Gibbs’ husband also tested positive for the coronavirus and works with the New Jersey Department of Corrections as a corrections officer in a state prison. New Jersey residents, extended family, and many law enforcement officers throughout the area will come together to celebrate the life of Officer Gibbs and to honor her for the sacrifice she made for her community. Full honors will be performed for Gibbs’ funeral services.
Donald Molder, the Institutional Vice President of the Policeman’s Benevolence Association #105, spoke of Gibb’s kindness and humor on the job. “She was a very nice person, someone who kept people laughing. She was a well-respected, beautiful person. We’re like a family, and when you lose somebody that you work with for several years, it’s very, very hard. It’s truly like losing a family member you’ve known all your life. Not being able to go into funeral homes, that made things even harder just knowing you’re not even there to comfort the family in their time of need.”
With PBA #205, William Sullivan spoke of the heroism being shown by law enforcement officers through this COVID19 pandemic. “It brings more severity to the situation at hand. It shows there are true heroes going to work every day.”