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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Metzgar Unveils Comprehensive Prison Reform Package

Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar (R-Bedford/Somerset) talks with SCI-Somerset officials about his comprehensive prison reform package aimed at improving prison staff safety, as well as public safety. Pictured with Metzgar are corrections officer Roger Snuffer, PA State Corrections Officers Association union representative Robert Grajeda, corrections officer Jeff Keafer and corrections officer Roy Oswalt.

HARRISBURG – Since 2015, there have been 3,751 instances of inmates assaulting Pennsylvania correction facility staff. To help curb this extreme violence, Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar (R-Bedford/Somerset) will introduce a seven-bill package to further protect prison staff and the public from these dangerous criminals.

“It is clear the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ policies have failed to protect the staff and officers that protect us from the state’s most dangerous criminals,” Metzgar said. “In addition to the 3,571 attacks on prison staff, there were 3,364 prisoner-on-prisoner assaults. This clearly shows our fearless correction officers being targeted for attack by these prisoners.”

Watch Rep. Metzgar’s comments about his prison reform initiative here:

Metzgar’s bills address seven key areas to improve safety for Department of Corrections (DOC) staff and the public. The bills would also provide tougher penalties on inmates who assault prison staff.

Metzgar’s package of legislation is in response to the heinous killing of Sgt. Mark Baserman at State Correctional Institution-Somerset, which is located within Metzgar’s district.

“The death of Sgt. Baserman was truly a senseless murder by a criminal who was already serving life in prison for first-degree murder,” Metzgar said. “Make no mistake. These are dangerous criminals who have committed horrible acts against our society and continue to negatively impact society while behind bars. We must increase safety measures to aid our correction officers.”

The bills would:

  • Redefine assault on a prison staff member to reflect there is a lower threshold for an assault to occur when committed by an inmate on staff.
  • Eliminate parole eligibility for inmates convicted of staff assault.
  • Place inmates who assault staff on the restricted release list, confining them to the restricted housing unit (RHU). Additionally, they cannot be released without a regional deputy secretary’s approval. 
  • Impose a mandatory five-year sentence for those convicted of staff assault, served consecutive to a prior sentence, and a $5,000 fine against the inmate’s commissary account.
  • Prohibit inmate access to boots, as this was the weapon used to kill Sgt. Baserman. Currently, the DOC still allows inmates to possess state-issued boots.
  • Mandate two guards per guard tower armed with autoloading rifles, with a minimum of 500 rounds per rifle pre-loaded in magazines.
  • Restrict commissary eligibility after a staff assault without a regional deputy secretary’s approval.

“Currently, most facilities do not allow access to rifles due to a failure of the DOC to train corrections officers. This is unacceptable and a threat not only to staff safety but also public safety,” Metzgar said. “It is time to stop coddling these criminals who are now prisoners, and this package of reform bills seeks to make our prisons safe for staff and communities.”

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Train the officers on the rifle. Pass the laws. Correctional Officers are the "forgotten officers" of law enforcement. They put their lives on the line every day they go to work. Inmates should not have more rights than officers. Inmates should be held accountable if they injure or kill an officer.