Prison work boot sales halted after guard kicked, killed

Mark Scolforo
The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — A Pennsylvania prison official said Tuesday the sale of work boots at all prison commissaries is halted because an inmate is accused of killing a guard by knocking him to the floor and kicking him in the head with a boot.

The prison guards’ union wants to ban work boots in prisons outright following the Feb. 15 beating of Sgt. Mark Baserman, who died of his injuries Monday.

The Corrections Department said it imposed the sales ban after employees at Somerset State Prison, where Baserman was attacked, raised the safety issue of boots last week in a meeting with administrators.

All prison-system facilities were notified, including postings in inmate housing units, commissary windows and all inmate common areas.

“They’re trying to figure out where to go from this point,” Corrections spokeswoman Sue McNaughton said. “Certainly the hard-soled shoes have been an issue.”

Authorities said lifer Paul Jawon Kendrick, 22, attacked Baserman over the guard’s confiscation of a towel Kendrick had used to block the view of his bunk. Kendrick, who was arraigned on assault charges the same day Baserman died, struck him repeatedly in the head, state police said in a charging affidavit.

“The defendant walked over and kicked Baserman in the head, as he was trying to recover from the floor, rendering him completely unresponsive,” police alleged. McNaughton said Kendrick was wearing boots.

Authorities said the attack on Baserman, which also injured another guard who came to his aid, was captured on videotape.

State police said Tuesday they were preparing homicide charges against Kendrick and planned to file them when he next appears in court March 9.

The Pennsylvania prison system has for many years allowed inmates to purchase boots from the commissaries, and some inmates have jobs that require the boots. McNaughton said officials may limit the boots to work sites.

Kendrick is serving a life sentence for killing a man who told participants in a Pittsburgh basketball game he lived in another neighborhood.

Kendrick, who was transferred to another prison after the alleged attack, did not have a defense attorney listed in court records.