Special assistant named to change culture in Delaware prisons

 Claire DeMatteis will work to reform Delaware prisons, looking at improving management practices and training behind bars. (Prison photo: File/WHYY; DeMatteis photo via Claire DeMatteis/Twitter)

Claire DeMatteis will work to reform Delaware prisons, looking at improving management practices and training behind bars. (Prison photo: File/WHYY; DeMatteis photo via Claire DeMatteis/Twitter)

Delaware Gov. John Carney has named Claire DeMatteis as his special assistant at the Delaware Dept. of Correction.

DeMatteis is charged with reforming management practices and training at the prisons. She’ll also work to do a “cultural turnaround” behind bars, according to a statement from Gov. Carney’s office.

“Claire is tough, she is independent-minded, and she has the judgement and credibility necessary to work alongside [DOC] Commissioner [Perry] Phelps and help us make real change,” Carney said. “She is a skilled lawyer who knows how to execute on a plan, and hold people accountable.”

From 1994-2004, DeMatteis worked as senior counsel to then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden where she worked in areas including law enforcement, foreign policy and constitutional matters. “We owe it to the correctional officers, inmates and citizens of Delaware to get this right and resolve past deficiencies,” DeMatteis said in a statement. “We have a clear road map and mandate to make the needed changes.”

The appointment of a special assistant was part of Carney’s plan to reform the DOC. That plan also includes new cameras at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. That’s the prison where an inmate siege in February ended in the death of correctional officer Lt. Steven Floyd. Carney’s plan also authorizes an extra 50 correctional officer positions at Vaughn.

Last week, Carney announced a deal with the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware to increase starting salaries for officers by 22 percent by the start of Fiscal Year 2019.

DeMatteis will start her work in July.

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