Dept. of Correction Commissioner is stepping down
Department of Correction Commissioner Perry Phelps announced Friday he is retiring, effective July 15th.
He served as commissioner for about two and a half years, a tenure that included the deadly February 2017 riot at the Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna.
Phelps’ decision comes in the wake of allegations that som staff with DOC medical provider Connections was directed to falsify records at Crest South program to indicate were given treatement they did not receive. The Delaware Attorney General’s office has launched an investigation.
Phelps met just last week with Gov. John Carney (D) about those allegations. Carney declined to express confidence in Phelps and after their meeting said he expressed his unhappiness about the allegations with Phelps directly.
“We’ve been making progress with compensation for our correctional officers, with hiring new correctional officers, with cutting down on forced overtime. I think the institutions are safer than they were before, they’re better managed. Then to have something like this,” Carney said at the time.
Carney says if Connections staff did falsify records, it could hurt the progress to rebuild trust made after the Vaughn riot, that resulted in the death of correction officer Lt. Steven Floyd.
In the statement announcing the retirement, Carney praised Phelps’ leadership after the riot.
“Commissioner Phelps has served our state for more than three decades at the Department of Correction, working his way up from a correctional officer position to the Commissioner’s office,” said Carney in his statement. “He has led us through one of the toughest times in the Department’s history. On behalf of all Delawareans, I want to thank Commissioner Phelps for his service to our state, and his willingness to commit to the tough work at the Department of Correction."
Phelps began his career with the Dept.of Correction in 1988 and with the exception of stint at the Department of Services for Children, Youth, and their Families from 2005-2006, spent his entire career there, working his way up the ranks to become Commissioner in Feb. 2017.
“When I joined the Department of Correction, I only expected to stay for two years. I thought I would use my experience as a stepping stone for another career. I discovered that DOC was a phenomenal place to fulfill my passion for public service and am fortunate to have met extraordinary mentors, peers and supporters throughout the criminal justice system who empowered me to work my way through the ranks to become Commissioner," said Phelps in his statement. “Serving in this role has been challenging and rewarding, but I consider it an honor and privilege."