This is in response to your editorial dated Jan. 30, in which the Mirror criticized a statement made by me at the Prison Board meeting held Jan. 16.
I sit on the Prison Board as the Judicial representative, having replaced Judge Carpenter at his retirement last year.
The issue was the attendance policy for correction officers, and their extremely poor compliance with that policy. Further, many of the officers had failed to attend any of the several meetings scheduled by management to explain the new policy. The remarks attributed to me were made during this discussion.
My position as judge offers frequent, even daily opportunities to make important decisions which can significantly impact individuals and the community as a whole. The ability to have your decision challenged, and accepting criticism, is part of the responsibility of being a judge.
I recognize I make mistakes and welcome the opportunity to correct those errors.
The facts and conclusion included in the Mirror's editorial opinion are simply inaccurate and wrong. They do not represent what I said or what occurred at the Prison Board meeting. The Mirror reporting from the Jan. 16 meeting was also factually inaccurate as to the statements attributed to me.
Your story and subsequent editorial opinion incorrectly states I didn't consider the corrections officers or their union the problem. I simply did not say that.
Audio recordings of the meetings are kept by the secretary, and I have obtained a copy and listened closely to that recording, and the reporting by the Mirror is not consistent with what occurred at that meeting. I stated that the responsibility for enforcement of the prison attendance policy is not up to the union, but rather the responsibility of the Prison Board.
There is a substantial conflict among the corrections officers at the prison. There are at least two factions of officers, and the union president is not supported by the one group.
In fact, his leadership is adamantly opposed by this dueling faction.
My comments were motivated by the knowledge that the union president could not solve the attendance issue, when a substantial portion of the problem is caused by those opposing his leadership.
My remarks acknowledged the severity of the problem and called for the board to strictly enforce this policy. There must be individual accountability for each correction officer's absence. That enforcement is the responsibility of the Prison Board; not anyone else, especially not the union.
This is what I said at the Prison Board meeting on Jan. 16, and I repeat it now.
Judge Dan Milliron
Blair County Courthouse