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State DOC puts out misleading ratios

It’s time for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to tell the truth about officer-to-inmate ratios.

In a recent state House hearing, DOC told lawmakers the ratio was 5-to-1. That seems reasonable. The problem is it isn’t close to being accurate.

This ratio is actually 100-to-1 or worse. DOC’s number is absurdly based on every officer working 24 hours a day, seven days a week — clearly impossible.

When you take into account the varying shifts officers work, the more accurate ratio is 100-to-1. That means in a typical day a single officer is alone with 100 inmates.

Dedicated corrections officers deserve to be safe, and state lawmakers can help by providing additional funding to hire more officers and provide them with Tasers.

Many mistakenly believe officers have firearms; they do not. Let’s do more to protect these brave men and women.

Our department also should place punishing inmate crimes above releasing inmates. In their zeal to reduce the prison population, word is spreading across the system that assaults won’t be punished.

DOC must follow regulations for punishments, place violent inmates in restricted housing to protect officers and restrict their access to the commissary. Otherwise, the DOC is sending a clear message that assaults on their own officers are permitted.

Tim Walsh

Harrisburg

(The writer is executive vice president of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association.)

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