Tragedy at Vaughn Correctional sparks protests for prisoners and guards [video]

In the wake of the deadly hostage situation at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center on Wednesday, protesters hit the grounds with two different views in Smyrna.

The scene was different at the Delaware prison where inmates took four employees hostage. The situation left one officer dead. In the hours after the stand-off ended a number of different protesters to flock to scene. One member of the group in support of the prisoners identified himself as Sharon Black of the People’s Power Assembly.

“Number one we are also calling for the demands of these prisoners to be heard, two we want full amnesty for those behind the bars. Our critical issue right now is to find out the truth and to make sure everybody is safe,” Black said.

According to Black, “brutalizing these prisoners” will not help the guards at the correctional facility or their families.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

On the other side protesters stood in solidarity for the employees. A former correctional officer who didn’t want to be identified shared his opinion on those who came out to support inmates.

“Wake up and grow up, be a responsible adult and understand that there are certain consequences for your actions and when you commit certain acts you may end up in prison,” the Smyrna resident said.

The unidentified retired guard points to the shortage of employees to patrol the prison as the real problem.

“This is a structural issue going on there with staffing, it’s a structural issue with how we decide to incarcerate these people and have these officers come into these institutions and try to maintain order,” the former worker added.

Perry Phelps, the new Delaware Department of Corrections Commissioner, says a staffing analysis is expected in the near future.

Union speaks out

Late Thursday the Corrections Association of Delaware laid the blame for the Vaughn uprising at the feed of former Governor Jack Markell.  They sited under-staffing has been an ongoing problem and called on Governor Carney to address the situation.

A statement from the association called Sgt. Floyd a proud husband, father, grandfather, and community advocate.  It also said he was a dedicated shop steward and correctional sergeant. 

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal