Lawmaker Speaks Out On Prison Concerns

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HOUTZDALE, CLEARFIELD COUNTY – An employee inside SCI Houtzdale exposed the violent working conditions inside the prison.
 
WTAJ’S exclusive interview Thursday has generated a lot of response.  Other workers have said they are also scared to go to work, and that in many cases the inmates are running the place.
 
It’s caught the attention of a state lawmaker.  Representative  Tommy Sankey, (R) 73rd District, has concerns over the safety of employees at the prison. He backed up much of what employees have been telling us about being under-staffed and over-worked.
 
That prison assault back in April was just one of 23 that have happened this year at SCI Houtzdale. Thirty four employees have been involved in those assaults.
 
Rep. Sankey also confirmed that one of those employees was beaten so badly, their face was barely recognizable, and they’re still recovering from those injuries. 
 
He lives in Houtzdale and has heard from many about safety concerns for employees inside prison walls.
 
A lot of the employees have told us, the reason for that is that the inmates are essentially running the place, and the staffing isn’t there to support.
 
As of may of this year, there were nearly 2,500 inmates housed at SCI Houtzdale with about 600 employees.
 
This has caused many to work mandatory overtime every 5 or 6 days according to employees.
 
This issue was first brought to Sankey’s attention when lawmakers recently discussed pension payments for state employees.
“I didn’t realize that they had so much mandatory overtime,” said Rep. Sankey. “They’re highly understaffed, highly. And even if we hired for the vacancies that are there, in my opinion, they’re still understaffed.”
 
Rep. Sankey said that all plays into safety of the correction’s officers and other staff in the prison.
He added that each year the state is spending more budget money on prisons, but that money is not being used to better protect employees. 

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