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Dept. of Correction gives lawmakers update on prison cameras, correctional officer wages

Delaware Public Media
Vaughn Correctional Center

Department of Correction Commissioner Perry Phelps says progress is being made on installing cameras at the Vaughn Correctional Center.

But there’s still a large part of the prison that is still not covered nearly a year after last February’s deadly riot and hostage standoff.

Corrections officials said more cameras have been needed at Vaughn for at least 13 years.

Phelps said about 650 cameras will eventually be installed. But currently only 15 percent of the Vaughn Correctional Center is covered by cameras. He said the additional cameras will help make the facility safer.

“And when you have additional technology such as a camera, you not only have the eyes on the floor, you have eyes on another command center watching," he said. "So if you don’t see something, they can call you and tell you something’s happening. So that’s how that helps.”

Phelps also said more corrections officers are needed in all facilities. The Carney administration raised starting pay to $40,000 last year. It will rise in July to $43,000 a year.

But Phelps said applications have dropped from around 900 a month to about 300 a month.

“We’ve noticed over the years that when the economy does well, our employment numbers go down," he said. "So, that can be a factor. And obviously the incident that happened on February 1st, some people are rethinking you know their careers in law enforcement.”

The riot last February resulted in the death of officer Steven Floyd. Eighteen inmates face criminal charges related to the riot.

And about 100 staffers have left since about this time last year - leaving already understaffed Delaware prisons even more shorthanded.

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