Emails: Delaware Correctional Officers Unhappy With Vaughn Manag - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Emails: Delaware Correctional Officers Unhappy With Vaughn Management

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The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, Del. (Photo: WBOC) The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, Del. (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. -- In the weeks following a hostage situation at the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna in which a correctional officer died, many COs expressed their worries and frustration with safety and security at the prison to the facility's acting warden.

Copies of the internal emails, obtained by WBOC, showed a number of rank-and-file correctional officers voicing concerns in light of a message from Deputy Warden Phil Parker, who is currently the acting warden at Vaughn, informing staff that inmates would soon be allowed to have recreational time outdoors. The message came roughly a month after the Feb. 1 hostage situation that saw the death of Correctional Officer Steven Floyd.

According to one email written more than a month ago, Parker wrote more than a month ago inmates must be allowed to go outdoors for recreation and necessary security precautions would need to be undertaken by staff.

"By now it should be apparent to everyone that the offenders are getting restless. Not to mention, the weather has been very good of late," he said.

Emails sent by correctional officers, apparently in response to Parker's message, showed COs voicing unhappiness over the decision and worries about safety and security. Some messages included officers accusing higher-ups of supporting inmates more consistently than rank-and-file correctional officers.

"Admin sits back in their cushy chairs far away from the scenes while we put our lives on the line every day," wrote one officer.

"Thirty inmates can demonstrate in a chow hall and be appeased by lieutenants, yet our concerns about safety and security go unheard," wrote another, referencing an alleged dry run by inmates to test prison security procedures that the correctional officers' union claims occurred in the weeks before the hostage situation.

Geoff Klopp, president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, declined an on-camera interview about the emails or the issues raised in the messages but acknowledged many COs are worried about conditions at Vaughn.

Dover Attorney Stephen Hampton, who is currently working on a possible class action lawsuit on behalf of Vaughn inmates alleging mistreatment following the hostage situation, said he could sympathize with worries about safety from the correctional officers but did not think it should prevent certain privileges from returning to inmates.

"I don't think that long-term, not letting these people out or allowing these people any recreation is going to help the situation or make the correctional officers any safer," he said.

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