Senate panel eyes Delaware prison working conditions

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On the heels of the deadly prison takeover in Smyrna, Delaware, corrections officers and state lawmakers are hoping to improve working conditions for employees. (WPVI)

On the heels of the deadly prison takeover in Smyrna, Delaware, corrections officers and state lawmakers are hoping to improve working conditions for employees.

"Make a prison a prison. What we have right now is not a prison, it's three-ring circus," said Delaware corrections officer Aaron Forkom.

State Senate hearings were held Thursday, the chance for employees, especially security guards, to speak to power, obviously triggered by the early February inmate takeover at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center that left one correctional officer dead and others injured.

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Sgt. Steven Floyd was a 16 year veteran of the Department of Corrections.



The hostage situation and homicide at the Smyrna prison rocked the First State. Issues raised at the hearing included under-staffing, poor organization and a higher management that allegedly doesn't care about shortcomings that breed dangerous safety conditions for those on the front lines.

"In the compound there's no cameras. We have no cameras in the compound. Where the incident took place in the C Building, D Building, S Building, W Building, Victor Building, there's no cameras," said corrections officer Jeffrey Peppers. "We can't maintain a safe environment."

"We are stretched beyond our means just to carry out and perform daily operations and tasks, such as running programs, recreations, visits, commissary and religious services," said Forkom. "All those things that I've just provided to you are essential, that are rights to the inmates."

Pending before the Senate now is a proposal to increase pay across the board for Department of Corrections personnel using existing overtime funds.

"We've been screaming for help for a long time. Nobody's listening. It took us losing an officer for us to have this conversation," said Forkom.
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