Letter to the editor | Do more to protect prison employees

July 30, 2013 

The latest assault at SCI-Rockview (“State police: Rockview inmate sexually assaulted employee,” July 26) should be the clearest signal yet that employees in that prison and state institutions across the state aren’t being properly protected.

To be sure, any job in a prison comes with an element of danger that every employee recognizes. However, when management consistently ignores its own staffing requirements, they unnecessarily heighten the risk. That is what happened last week, when a Rockview inmate sexually assaulted a female employee. Rather than having four officers in the housing unit, as management requires, Superintendent Marirosa Lamas chose to provide only two. Those extra officers could have been the difference in preventing this brutal assault.

Superintendent Lamas has referred to herself as a campus director. It’s time she recognizes Rockview is a state prison - not a college campus. It’s time for her to adhere to her own manpower requirements.

Regrettably, this problem isn’t isolated to Rockview. Assaults are becoming more common under Secretary John Wetzel and his leadership team, due to under-staffing that ignores their own manpower requirements. As a result, officers have been attacked at institutions across the state, including Camp Hill, Cole Township, Albion and others.

The unfortunate assault that took place at Rockview should serve as a wakeup call to the Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania General Assembly. It’s time to hold the department accountable for not meeting its own manpower requirements. The consequences have been devastating to prison employees and their families.

Robert Storm

Harrisburg

The writer is vice president of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association.

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