Independent review finds JTVCC overcrowded, understaffed

(AP/WMDT) – An independent review ordered by Delaware's governor after a deadly inmate riot describes the state's maximum-security prison as dangerously overcrowded, critically understaffed, and poorly run and managed.

A preliminary report from the review ordered by Democratic Gov. John Carney says prison workers consider communication to be the No. 1 problem at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.

Carney ordered the review after inmates took four prison workers hostage in February, setting off a nearly 20-hour standoff during which correctional officer Steven Floyd was killed.

In a summary the Review Team said that there was an "archaic way of conducting business" at the correctional center, adding that there was a "sense of chaos" where "most everyone ended up doing their own thing rather than following a clear and unified plan or strategy".

Their report also called for technology and equipment upgrades and additions. Acknowledging publicly that there were no surveillance cameras inside the building where this year's uprising occurred.

The report released Friday portrays stressed-out correctional officers as not knowing what is expected of them, a disconnect between shift supervisors and upper management, and confusion and anxiety among inmates who don't know how they will be treated because of inconsistent rules and policies.

"There currently exists at this time approximately 100 vacancies," said Charles M. Oberly, III, a retired United States Attorney. "Even thought the governor has asked for additional staffing which is necessary – right now we can't fill the positions we have."

During a tele-conference Oberly went on to say that many of the problems were highlighted in a 2005 report.

"Independently we found those issues still exist and that obviously is troublesome," said Oberly. "That in a 12 year period it appears the same things exist."

The reviewers, led by Judge William Chapman Junior and retired U-S Attorney Charles Oberly, submitted a list of 30 recommendations which includes the development of a strategic plan, communication improvements, training and information sharing, as well as a decrease in the inmate population.

And the team called on the legislature to act on those recommendations sooner rather than later.

"One of the reasons we wanted the release the preliminary report now is because the legislature does go out of session," said Oberly. "And you can appreciate that preliminary reports are not typically issued but the thing with general assignment but they would go out of session without losing any possibility of dealing with these issues. 

To see the full report released by the investigative team click here. 

Categories: Delaware, Local News