JACKSON TWP. — A correctional officer was stabbed in the facial area by an inmate serving a life sentence inside the State Correctional Institution at Dallas Thursday night.
State police at Wyoming said Correctional Officer Francis Petroski was slashed in the face by inmate Joel Perez, 40, at about 7:35 p.m.
Multiple sources said Petroski was sitting at the guard desk in L-Block when Perez ambushed him from behind and stabbed him with a homemade weapon. Another correctional officer in the housing block was making rounds when Petroski was attacked, sources said.
Perez, sentenced to life in prison for a first-degree murder conviction in Lancaster County 18 years ago, has been housed at SCI-Dallas since 1996. He was transferred to the State Correctional Institution at Retreat after the stabbing.
Charges likely will be filed against Perez.
Sources who work at SCI-Dallas said there are two correctional officers assigned to L-Block that can hold about 60 inmates. A third correctional officer rotates among housing blocks for relief, sources said.
Petroski was initially treated in the prison infirmary and transported to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township where he underwent surgery. He was released Friday afternoon.
A news release from Robin Lucas, SCI-Dallas spokesperson, did not include the names of the injured correctional officer and inmate.
According to the news release, the inmate was exiting a housing unit and while passing two officers sitting at a desk, used a homemade weapon to assault one of the officers.
Three other officers in the corridor saw the inmate running from the housing unit and immediately apprehended him. The housing unit in which the stabbing took place is located across from the prison’s infirmary.
One of the sources said Perez, when he ran into the corridor, was stopped by a “tank size” correctional officer.
“The entire incident, from start to finish, lasted only a few minutes,” said Superintendent Larry Mahally in the news release. “Staff should be commended for their quick response to this isolated incident.”
Sources said the desk in L-Block is open in a common area and not protected by a cage. Inmates are not permitted at or near the desk or they can be issued a misconduct citation, which is punishable by loss in commissary visits or time punitive confinement, referred to in prison as “in the hole,” sources said.
Inmates are only permitted to stand behind a yellow line painted on the floor when they approach the desk to ask for paper or permission to use a telephone.
SCI-Dallas, a medium security facility for male inmates, was placed on lock-down until further notice due to the stabbing. Inmate programs and visits have been cancelled and inmates were to be fed in their cells.
The inmate population at SCI-Dallas is 2,143, according to the most recent posting by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections website.