SOMERSET – The organization that represents Pennsylvania corrections officers reacted strongly Monday to news that three guards were injured in an alleged attack by an inmate Sunday at the State Correctional Institution at Somerset.
SCI-Somerset has had several recent violent incidents, including the deaths of a corrections officer and an inmate in separate events last year.
Jason Bloom, president of Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, claimed in a statement sent Monday to The Tribune-Democrat that SCI-Somerset recently doubled the number of men from an inmate housing unit who were allowed out of their cells at the same time for recreational activities – which he said violates an agreement with PSCOA and puts guards at risk.
SCI-Somerset will remain on lockdown into Tuesday, a spokeswoman said.
According to a press release from prison system officials, the incident occurred in the day room of a housing unit and did not involve weapons.
“All three corrections officers were taken via state vehicle to a local hospital to be evaluated for their injuries,” the release said. “None of the injuries were life-threatening.”
SCI-Somerset officials said the inmate was immediately confined to the prison’s restricted housing unit until arrangements for transfer to another state prison are made.
“Leadership at SCI-Somerset under Superintendent Eric Tice must be held accountable for these latest brutal assaults on good officers,” Bloom said. “This could have easily been avoided by upholding an existing commonsense agreement. It’s unbelievable that these hard lessons still must be learned at Somerset.”
The state Department of Corrections does not identify staff or inmates involved in assaults when incidents are under investigation. This incident is under investigation internally and by Pennsylvania State Police, officials said.
“The DOC takes all assaults seriously and works to determine how they happen and how they can be prevented,” the release said. “The safety of its employees is a priority of the DOC and attacks on staff will not be tolerated.”
Also at SCI-Somerset:
• Inmate William Amos Cramer, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, was charged with assaulting a corrections officer who was transporting him to Somerset Hospital for treatment in December 2017.
• In January 2018, inmate Dale Wakefield was charged with killing cellmate Joshua Perry inside the facility.
• The following month, Sgt. Mark Baserman died after he and a fellow corrections officer were allegedly assaulted inside the prison by inmate Paul Kendrick, of Pittsburgh.
• Another inmate, Canie Griffith, received an additional 35 months to 10 years behind bars for assaulting a corrections officer with a padlock in May.