The Delaware Coalition of Prison Reform and Justice has outlined a number of issues and concerns regarding an independent review of February’s deadly prison takeover in Smyrna.
“It does not mention the alleged misconduct or violations of human and civil rights by some of the correctional officers,” said Rev. Chris Bullock who leads the organization.
On February 1, inmates took several guards hostage at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. The incident led to the death of Lt. Steven Floyd. Bullock held several town hall meetings following the incident where community members raised similar concerns about inhumane prison conditions and talked about abuse of inmates.
“The report failed to address the pain of the people who have family members who are accusing and alleging torture by guards inside the prison,” Bullock said.
Also according to Bullock, funding was missing from the report as well as resources for educational, mental health and vocational training. “These are the kinds of things we’d like to see in terms of reducing recidivism and redeeming the inmates once they are released from prison,” Bullock said.
The coalition called for a federal and transparent investigation following the situation. The organization is still waiting to hear from officials in Washington D.C. regarding the case.
In the meantime, Bullock plans to meet with former Judge William L. Chapman as well as former U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware Charles Oberly to discuss the report further.
Bullock expressed disappointment in Friday’s initial report released by Gov. John Carney.
“It’s the Delaware way, but God has another way,” Bullock exclaimed.
In February, a Delaware Senate committee listened to concerns and conditions inside the prison. During that session Geoffrey Klopp, head of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware said the goal was to improve working conditions for prison staff in the state.
According to those testimonies the starting salary for prison officers is $32,000. Klopp attributed the low pay for the high turnover at Delaware prisons.
“On the one hand there are some good things as it relates to cameras and upgrading the pay scale etc… We certainly agree with that,” Bullock said.
In August, another review of the Vaughn Correctional Center will be released. Bullock said he would like to see accountability in that report.
“Who’s going to be responsible for implementing the recommendations? It’s like having a Christmas list but Santa Claus doesn’t show up,” said Bullock. “The coalition will continue to be the voice for transformational change and redemption and justice.”