Carney Calls for Independent Review of Deadly Prison Hostage Sit - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Carney Calls for Independent Review of Deadly Prison Hostage Situation

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Delaware Gov. John Carney speaks at a Thursday morning press conference about the hostage incident that occurred at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna. The incident left a correctional officer dead. (Photo: WBOC) Delaware Gov. John Carney speaks at a Thursday morning press conference about the hostage incident that occurred at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna. The incident left a correctional officer dead. (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. -- Nearly a week after a deadly hostage situation that left one Delaware correctional officer dead, Gov. John Carney on Tuesday said there will be an independent review of the standoff and its causes.

Carney said in a statement the review will occur following the conclusion of the Delaware State Police investigation into the hostage situation and the death of Lt. Steven Floyd, a correctional officer of 16 years who was found unresponsive and later pronounced dead after a building overtaken by inmates was stormed by law enforcement early Thursday morning.

"We will find out how this happened, and work together with all parties involved to prevent this type of incident from happening again,” he said. “Every day, our correctional officers accept the risk of performing a dangerous job on behalf of the people of Delaware. And we must take the action necessary to ensure our correctional facilities remain safe and secure."

Carney will select a person to head the probe, which will look at the immediate and underlying causes of the hostage situation. A series of recommendations will be made to prevent similar situations from occurring again.

The decision comes short of a federal investigation sought by some criminal justice advocates earlier in the day. Members of the Delaware Coalition for Prison Reform and Justice said the state cannot be trusted to investigate its own correction department within the context of the uprising.
"Delaware has a history of not being fair, open, and transparent, when it comes to these particular issues," said Rev. Chris Bullock, who heads the coalition.

Members of the coalition and former inmates at Vaughn alleged poor treatment of inmates by some staff members and overcrowding at Delaware prisons is likely a cause of the hostage situation and those issues have been ignored by the state government for years. They also said correctional officers are understaffed, overworked, and underpaid.

Jayme Gravell, a Delaware Department of Correction spokeswoman, said the agency was investigating the allegations of overcrowding but denied claims that inmates were being treated inhumanely by staff members.

Michael Bartley, a former inmate who spent more than 15 years behind bars---mostly at Vaughn---on offenses including assault and robbery, said inmates are treated poorly there and he thinks those conditions were tied to the uprising.

"This situation, it was pushed. It was a boiling point. It had to break sooner or later," he said. "You can only treat a man so bad for so long."

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