Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

February 20, 2014

Most NBCI officers believe warden’s firing hurts safety

More than 86 percent of Correctional Officers at North Branch Correctional Institution polled recently indicated they believe the firing of Warden Bobby R. Shearin by Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Gregg Hershberger will definitely make the institution less safe for officers and inmates.

The online poll (not scientific) of more than 100 correctional officers at NBCI asked, “Do you think the firing of Warden Shearin and a return to a less super-max approach makes inmates and officers more or less safe?”

“Definitely less safe” and “less safe” was the response of a combined 96.3 percent.

Results: Definitely less safe-86.1 percent; less safe-10.2 percent; not sure-2.8 percent; more safe-.9 percent.

The poll was conducted February 5th- 8th.

“Officers feel strongly that Warden Shearin’s willingness to use preventative measures such as lockdowns dramatically reduced inmate and officer assaults”, said NBCI Correctional Officer Jeff Grabenstein.

Patrick Moran, President of AFSCME Council 3 said, “Officer assaults spiked dramatically at NBCI In July 2013.

This led to a more appropriate super-max approach and that clearly cut inmate and officer assaults. Officers do not have confidence that the Department will continue to utilize lockdowns as appropriate to maintain safety for inmates and officers. The dramatic cut in assaults is the proof Shearin’s approach was working.

“The man served nine years at NBCI and neighboring WCI. And he was warden in the federal system for thirty years.

“Officers are deeply concerned that DPSCS is much more interested in maintaining the stamp of approval from outside entities like the American Corrections Association, which costs unnecessary taxpayer money than in supporting officers doing a dangerous and necessary job and the Wardens who have their back.”

Jeff Pittman

AFSCME spokesman

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