Mr. Frank J.
Mr. Frank J. is currently employed as a Corrections Officer at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility (GWHCF), where he has worked for the past few years. He has been a Cell Block Officer, Special Management Unit (SMU) Officer, Intake and Outtake Officer, and Inmate Escort among other duties he has performed there. He has a wealth of information because of his varied experience at the facility. In his descriptions below, Frank has been able to confirm several things that we have heard from other storytellers.
POOR Inmate Care and Treatment
In regard to how inmates are treated at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, Frank said, “The worst problem there is how they [staff and guards] treat the inmates - they don't know how to talk to people and they often treat the inmates like animals.”
There are two cells in the Intake/Outtake Area of the jail that do not contain a toilet. Inmates are required to urinate into holes in the floor.
Inappropriate sexual behavior between guards and staff, guards and inmates, and staff and inmates does occur. When this happens, guards and staff are fired, and the company works hard to keep it quiet.
When staff use Medical Department gurneys to transport inmates, they are supposed to be wiped down to prevent the spread of infection – but these are not wiped down after each use. Note: Frank did single out "Nurse Nina" from the Medical Department (responsible for CPR training and Mental Health training) as an example of someone who is doing a wonderful job.
Inmates with medical issues who use colostomy bags are supposed to be given three ostomy bags each day - at George W. Hill Correctional Facility these inmates are given three ostomy bags per week.
Feminine hygiene products are not distributed well and are sometimes withheld from female inmates just to be mean.
During cell block shakedowns, property is often confiscated from certain unpopular inmates and given to other, more favored inmates.
Frank related some of the issues the brick and mortar facility needs to address, including: the jail is dirty and it stinks; the maintenance people paint directly over mold; the water system seems to use recycled water and in his words, “it's nasty.” According to Frank, there is no Staff bathroom on the SMU and the food trays that the inmate meals are served on need to be changed - Frank said about these: “I wouldn't feed my dog on those trays.” He indicated that there has been mold in the juice containers that are distributed to inmates.
Perhaps most concerning is that Frank informed us that there are three cells in the Upper Medical Unit (the Women's Unit) that are NEVER opened. Inmates residing in these cells are spoken to through the slots in the doors and they receive their meals in the same way. Apparently, they are never allowed out of their cells. According to Frank, these individuals can only shower if a Supervisor comes and decides to take them out of their cells - they sometimes have to wait several days to shower. In addition, there is currently an inmate being housed on the SMU who puts his urine into milk cartons so he can throw it at guards and staff.
Lack of Basic Support for Staff
Per Frank, staff morale at GWHCF is low; most employees hate their jobs and they are frequently in bad moods. In general, he feels that “it is not safe at GWHCF.” He said that he “worries every day.” Aside from the issues already mentioned, he indicated that “many of the Correctional Officers there have asthma” and they are not healthy enough to respond effectively to crises when they occur. Frank also noted the following disturbing situations occurring at George W. Hill Correctional Facility:
GWHCF is chronically short-staffed. Frank informed us that many staff members who have been forced to work double shifts have been "crashing their cars" due to exhaustion.
Contraband (drugs, cellphones, tobacco, etc.), is most frequently brought into the facility by guards, staff, and inmates housed in the DUI Unit. Note: Recently there was a “shakedown” of staff members and drugs were found in two “unassigned” lockers. Additionally, rumor on the compound is that two more guards are under investigation for bringing drugs on to Unit #6.
The African guards and staff members have set up a black-market economy where they will agree to work “extra shifts” for other staff members in exchange for a cash payment of $50.00
There are not enough parking spots for people with disabilities. Staff members park indiscriminately, and the jail Command structure doesn't enforce compliance. According to Frank, although police are able to visit GWHCF to drop off inmates, they are not able to access the property for enforcement purposes without permission of the jail.
Sweatshirts, which should be issued as part of the Correctional Officer's uniforms, must be purchased from Sergeants for $35.00
Frank believes that change there must start at the top. According to him, Deputy Warden Colucci doesn't respond to the concerns of the Corrections Officers, the HR office staff is useless, the Correctional Officers Union representation is weak, and the Psychologists employed there “don't know what they're doing.”
Finally, Frank told us that he and other staff members who are sympathetic to the mission of DelcoCPR are “not allowed” to attend our organization's monthly meetings. He feels that they are being watched by management who are apparently concerned about what our organization is doing.
In general, Frank indicated that things at George W. Hill Correctional Facility are “lax and unsupervised.” Focusing in on his training, Frank shared the following information:
Generally, the training provided to Corrections Officers is not adequate. Training for Corrections Officers entails approximately 160 hours of instruction.
The training that is provided is transmitted mostly through the use of videos from the 1970s.
The Command staff at GWHCF is mostly Caucasian and pays little attention to the mostly African and African-American guards. Conversely, the guards are mostly African and African-American and pay little attention to the requests of Caucasian inmates.
Often, the “hands-on” instruction that is provided to Trainees is given by CO's who have been at the facility for a long period of time rather than someone who is certified in the area in question. Frank indicated that he would prefer the training to be handled by ex-cops and ex-military members. According to him, training needs to be improved, particularly with all senior staff members.
From talking to Frank, it is clear that GWHCF has extensive protocols, security procedures, and processes “in writing” which they are supposed to follow, although they often do not. Frank described his annual training as “playing around all day in class.” He advised that, in his Training Class, a Captain or Lieutenant always sat in with the Trainees and gave them the answers to questions they didn't know so that as many Trainees as possible could pass the tests.
An example of the sophistication of GWH's security protocols is illustrated in the radio codes listed below:
Code Black - Denotes inmate on staff violence and activates CERT Team and Canine Units
Code Yellow - Denotes inmate on inmate violence
Code Blue - Indicates a Medical Emergency
Code White - Indicates “Inmate on the loose; Escaped from custody”
Code Orange - Lock Down of the jail
Code Green - All Clear
For those that are curious, there is no Code Red.
Note: pseudonyms have been used to protect the privacy of the individuals who shared their story with us.