DALLAS — Citing over-capacity and staff assaults, the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association Tuesday called for the Wolf administration to improve safety for officers, staff and inmates at SCI-Dallas.
The PSCOA claims over-capacity issues are leading to increases in staff assaults, according to statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
A news release from PSCOA states:
“With an operational bed capacity of 1,993 beds, SCI-Dallas currently has 2,161 inmates. The over-capacity rate of 108.4 percent is the largest in the state system.
“Staff assaults have seen a dramatic 33-percent increase. In the last few months alone, inmates have punched officers in the face and neck, and one officer suffered a concussion.
“Worse, officers are victims of “gassing,” which is when inmates throw urine, feces and other dangerous liquids, posing long-term health risks to officers and their families.”
PSCOA Vice President Mark Truszkowski, who has served for nearly two decades as an officer at SCI-Dallas, said, “It’s one thing to be physically assaulted, but throwing human excrement and fluids on officers can lead to contracting diseases, including HIV.”
Truszkowski went on to say, “Officers suffer additional stress and anxiety because they must be repeatedly screened and cannot have physical contact with their loved ones. Something must be done at SCI-Dallas because officers, staff and inmates are increasingly being targeted, as the prison population has created an unsafe facility. These aren’t our statistics. They’re straight from the Department of Corrections.”
Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, issued a statement concerning the PSCOA news release.
“These serious concerns, based on documented incidents, warrant a prompt independent investigation and resolution, with proper public disclosure of findings throughout the process,” Baker said. “The situation at SCI-Dallas runs contrary to the ‘all is well’ portrait of the correctional system the Wolf administration has given during their ill-advised effort to close SCI-Retreat.”
Sen. John Yudichak, I-Plymouth Township, said he and Baker have repeatedly raised concerns that the closing of state correctional facilities, combined with misguided parole policies, can lead to unsafe conditions in the prison system.
“The Department of Corrections should heed the calls from these front line PSCOA members who recognize the dangerous conditions that can result from a prison system the becomes unstable and unsustainable,” Yudichak said.
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Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.