Waynesburg, PA – Today Governor Tom Wolf met privately
with Department of Corrections staff at State Correctional Institution Greene
to discuss safety concerns amid the recent spate of staff exposure to unknown
substances in several of the state’s correctional facilities.
Immediately following the
meeting, Gov. Tom Wolf and Corrections Secretary John Wetzel announced new
protocols being put in place to protect staff, visitors and inmates at
Pennsylvania’s 25 state correctional facilities. All facilities have been on
lockdown since August. 29.
officers put themselves in harm’s way to make our commonwealth safer, and it is
up to us to provide them protection from harm,” Gov. Wolf said. “I met with
several of the corrections officers here at SCI Greene today and I want to
assure them that their concerns are valid and were heard.
“It is our responsibility to
keep all commonwealth employees safe while at work so that they return home
each day to their families.”
Corrections Secretary John
Wetzel detailed the new protocols, which are already being phased in and which
Wetzel said he hopes will be completed within the next 90 to 100 days.
The changes involve a plan that
Sec. Wetzel explained at today’s press conference:
mail currently in correctional facilities will be returned to the sender.
mail will be sent to a separate address where it will be scanned and
processed six days per week. After scanned and processed, mail will be
delivered to inmates.
Mail will be copied by Corrections staff wearing protective clothing in
the presence of inmates. The copying process will be videotaped and tapes
preserved and burned weekly to a disc and original documents placed in a
secure bag and maintained for 15 business days.
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections facilities are currently utilizing
drone detection; those without drone detection will be receiving it.
will reflect specific protocols for when a drone is detected, especially
procedures for when a drone is present when inmates are at yard.
scanners will be purchased centrally and distributed to all Correctional
facilities as soon as possible.
facility will receive two scanners: One for visitors and one for staff.
will be doubled in all visit rooms effectively immediately.
will be a 90-day moratorium on photos and on vending while the department
develops more strict criteria for protocols on consequences of the introduction
and possession of drugs by visitor and/or inmates.
department is beginning the transition to e-books coupled with a bolstered
department library system featuring centralized purchasing and an ordering
same protocol applies to magazines.
resource account will be created where friends and family can make
requests to purchase books to be delivered to inmates.
Information Hotline: 717-728-4743
hotline is for callers to provide any information related to the
introduction of drugs or possession of drugs in a state correctional
institution by inmates, visitors or staff members.
may remain anonymous but if any wish to speak to an investigator, may
leave a name and inmate number.
members, staff and members of the general community are also encouraged to
use this PA DOC Drug hotline.
“We are focusing on doing the
next right thing for our staff, the inmates, the system and the commonwealth,”
Sec. Wetzel said. “With the announcement of these plans to eradicate drugs in
the Corrections system, we are demonstrating our all-hands-on-deck approach to
safety in our prisons.”
“I have confidence that the
Department of Corrections, working with state agency partners and law
enforcement will determine the cause or causes of the recent sickening of staff
and will put in place the necessary protections and procedures to ensure staff
safety,” Gov. Wolf said.
MEDIA CONTACT: J.J. Abbott, 717-783-1116