Hundreds of Delaware inmates are set to be transferred to prisons in Pennsylvania.
The state of Delaware has made a two-year deal with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for it to take up to 330 Delaware inmates.
It’ll cost the state about $40,000 a day to house that number of prisoners out of state. Inmates chosen for transfer can’t be involved in active litigation or have more than five years left on their sentence.
But while the Carney administration is pitching the plan as a short-term measure to increase public safety and decrease correctional officer overtime, retired State Rep. J.J. Johnson is concerned it will end up being permanent.
“They claim that this is just a temporary solution, but I know how those temporary solutions go," he said. "I was concerned about the state not being able to address their own concerns.”
The Delaware Dept. of Correction is having trouble attracting correctional officers. DOC officials say there’s currently 237 correctional officer vacancies statewide, despite raising the starting salary to $43,000 and offering additional bonuses.
Johnson, who was House Corrections Committee chair, is also concerned the state is shifting its responsibility to provide programs to inmates.
“The Corrections department is more than just housing people," he said. "We should have programs for rehabilitation. We have some… a lot of inmates that are on substance abuse. Are they getting the proper treatment at the new facilities?”
DOC says inmates transferred will still have access to medical and mental health treatment, education, and other services.
The arrangement will save Delaware money. The Delaware Department of Correction will pay $123.00 per inmate per day to the State of Pennsylvania. It costs Delaware $131 per day to house an inmate in state.
DOC officials say they will make an effort to place Delaware inmates in prisons that do not require excessive travel time in order to facilitate visitation. Johnson says family contact is important for rehabilitation.