Amid calls for investigative committee, Del. DOC says transparency is key
DELAWARE – Some first state lawmakers want to create a committee to take a closer look at how the Department of Corrections is handling the COVID-19 pandemic. The call for the committee stems from ongoing concerns over the health and safety of Delaware’s inmates. Those include access to commissary, communications, and COVID-19 safety protocols within prison walls. “When you’re talking about congregate settings and an airborne virus, the chances of flare ups happening are just so great,” said Executive Director of the ACLU of Delaware Mike Brickner.
Delaware Department of Corrections Commissioner Claire DeMatteis says the DOC has been working to ensure both inmate and staff safety. That includes working on initiatives like giving inmates incentives to get both rounds of the COVID-19 vaccine. “We are prepared to offer inmates five days of good time credit if they receive both doses. In addition to that, we’re going to offer them 30 minutes free video visitation,” said Comm. DeMatteis.
Brickner says with COVID-19’s end no where in sight, transparency is key. He says that’s because looking back at what went right and what went wrong can help the first state be more prepared for the future. “Understanding how things went and what went well and what needs to be improved upon only puts us in a better position to be able to respond in the future,” said Brickner.
Comm. DeMatteis says she’s ready to work with the committee if it’s formed. “It’s necessary that we communicate, and over communicate with the public, with inmates, with inmates’ families, with legislators. We’ve been doing that for the past nine months,” said Comm. DeMatteis.
Comm. DeMatteis says the DOC is working on some other things to help mitigate COVID-19. She says they’re implementing new temperature checks that are done on the wrist instead of the forehead next week. The commissioner also says the DOC is continually reviewing how they can improve HVAC systems, and take advantage of new technology.