Delaware correctional officers report three incidents this week in which guards were assaulted by inmates at different state facilities.
The Correctional Officers Association of Delaware say between Tuesday and Wednesday guards were assaulted at the Sussex, Baylor Women’s and Vaughn Correctional Institutions.
In two of the incidents guards received minor injuries and sought medical treatment.
Geoff Klopp is the President of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware. He says the violence is a direct result of understaffing.
“When you don’t have sufficient officers there to have the proper presence around violent inmates, it gives the inmates the opportunity to make a poor decision and assault one of my officers,” said Klopp.
Earlier this year, the Department of Correction (DOC) counted 261 vacancies among correctional officers.
And Klopp says the officers are currently working about 20,000 hours of overtime a week statewide. He calls on the state to pay correctional officers the same amount as other officers in the Delaware.
“Politicians and DOC officials want to dance around and try to come up with all these grandiose ideas instead of listening to the people who work the job and know the answer, which is to pay us what we deserve,” said Klopp.
Gov. Carney and state legislators approved pay raises for correctional officers in this year’s budget.
"Correctional Officers perform a dangerous job and oftentimes encounter inmates with mental illness and behavioral challenges," said Deputy Commissioner Alan Grinstead in a statement. "We offer interpersonal communication training to our officers so they know how to de-escalate volatile situations such as these."
DOC is restricting movement and prohibiting visitation at all Delaware level 5 prisons in response to recent events in Ohio and Pennsylvania correctional facilities, that led to both f inmates and staff being hospitalized.