– Rep. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson/Indiana), a retired state corrections officer who organized a state Capitol press conference last week focused on “Correcting the PA Department of Corrections (DOC),” issued the following statement today regarding the immediate lockdown of all state correctional institutions due to reports of multiple staff members sickened by unknown substances over the past few weeks:
“After joining with the Wolf administration in maliciously accusing me of politicizing the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our dedicated corrections personnel, I’m happy to see the Department of Corrections finally taking recommended action to address the mail and visiting room corridors of access for drugs and dangerous substances to get into our correctional facilities.
“However, the families and corrections staff of all classifications whom I’ve spoken with want Secretary John Wetzel and Executive Deputy Secretary Shirley Moore Smeal to know that all vectors have to be addressed.
“Most importantly, we want the DOC to acknowledge and understand that superficial searches of the institutions being used as window-dressing will neither satisfy us nor solve the problems. In other words, take as much time as necessary to properly clear the facilities.
“This is truly a ‘state of emergency’ as defined in DOC policy. Per policy, privileges granted to inmates are to be suspended during a state of emergency.
“Searches take time and a lot of effort. Let staff take the time and do it right. Do not rush them through for the sake of getting things ‘back-to normal.’ All contraband must be removed without exception and without any form of ‘compensation’ to the inmates for something that, by definition, they are not permitted to possess.
“The DOC should reconvene the members of the Violence Reduction Initiative committees and determine the recommendations to initiate department-wide prior to resuming normal operations. The recommendations — which have been used at institutions without department-wide adoption and have been found to be effective — should be given top priority.
“All memos which have the effect of changing DOC policy without the policy having been formally changed should be immediately rescinded in a blanket memo from the secretary to permit institutions to return to policies which protect staff and inmates without fear of reprisal from Central Office personnel.”
Representative Cris Dush
66th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Ty McCauslin