NEWARK, NJ — Former Northern State Prison corrections officer Avril D. Richardson, 46, of Elizabeth, has been sentenced to three years probation by Superior Court Judge Mark S. Ali, according to an Aug. 30 press release from acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens II.
In addition to probation, Richardson was forced to forfeit her job and any future public employment after pleading guilty to a sexual relationship with an inmate while working as a senior correctional officer at Northern State Prison, which is located in Newark.
The relationship came to light as a result of an investigation conducted by the New Jersey Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division. Working in concert with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Professional Standards Bureau, she was arrested and charged. The investigation revealed she had a relationship with the inmate that started in 2016 and continued until her arrest. They maintained this relationship by talking on the phone and emailing. At the time, she was assigned to his housing unit.
In June, Richardson pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual contact, according to Assistant Prosecutor Jessica L. Apostolou, who handled the case.
“Any time corrections officers abuse their power and violate the public trust, the safety of our community is in jeopardy,” Apostolou said. “This case reflects the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office continued diligent pursuit of the conviction of offenders of the laws of this state. Our pursuit of justice involves the prosecution of criminal conduct by law enforcement officers in the course of their employment, and we worked closely with the New Jersey Department of Corrections, Special Investigations Division to reach this goal.”