COVID numbers decline despite early signs of new fall wave

LETTER: Pa. correctional system on verge of being overwhelmed

John Eckenrode
Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association

The Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association is repeating its call for the Wolf administration to immediately lock down all state prisons and stop inmate transfers during the current COVID-19 pandemic surge.

This administration often talks of containing spread, so why are we moving prisoners around Pennsylvania from prison to prison? Why aren’t we doing everything we can to limit activity in our prisons?

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Our system is on the verge of being overcome. Testing is being done, but there isn’t any consistency from facility to facility. Right now, lockdowns and pausing transfers are the best way to help protect corrections officers, staff and inmates. PSCOA members are overworked and exhausted, working massive amounts of overtime due to COVID-19 illness within their ranks.

Our members need relief. It makes little sense to continue to allow for open and free movement within our prisons as the virus continues to spread. It makes even less sense to allow for potentially sick inmates to be transferred to different prisons. We believe this is contributing to the increased COVID-19 illnesses among our members and cost two officers their lives. The PSCOA is ready to work with the DOC and administration officials on a safety plan that will save lives.