HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – State Rep. Pam Snyder said the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections must do more to protect its corrections officers, demanding an immediate review of its policies and programs related to prison reform, citing several concerns from officers about their negative impacts on employee safety and security.
Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, today joined the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association and prison safety advocates in calling for this review. During the news conference, she discussed a recent incident where an officer was stabbed several times by an inmate at SCI-Greene, one of two state prisons in her district.
“Our corrections officers have a dangerous but vital job to do, and as their employer, the Department of Corrections should do everything in their power to equip them with the vital protections they need to stay safe, but that’s clearly not happening,” Snyder said. “This officer at SCI-Greene nearly died. We don’t need another assault that leaves an officer fighting for his or her life. We need to take a long, hard look at the policies the Department of Corrections has enacted, because it’s clear the pendulum is swinging in the wrong direction and as a result, inmates have more protections than officers, and that’s wrong and inexcusable.”
Snyder, whose district also includes SCI-Fayette, has been a staunch supporter of state corrections officers. Recently, her bill to provide corrections officers the opportunity to submit written testimony or testify in person at parole hearings unanimously passed the House and is currently being considered in the Senate. In 2016, she helped enact legislation to allow corrections officers to carry pepper spray while on duty. In 2018, Snyder also called for a thorough review of state prison system employee safety and security after more than two dozen employees were sickened by a substance that was later identified as synthetic marijuana.
“Today, I am honored to stand with each one of you, and I will continue to do all I can to support you and keep you safe while on the job,” Snyder said. “You show up each and every day to protect us, and I vow to have your backs.”