Governor Carney Announces Appointment of Special Assistant at Department of Correction

Claire DeMatteis, former senior counsel to U.S. Senator Joe Biden, will lead implementation of DOC plan

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney on Wednesday announced his appointment of Claire DeMatteis – a former senior counsel to then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden – as a temporary Special Assistant to the Governor at the Delaware Department of Correction.

DeMatteis will focus her efforts on reform of management practices and training, cultural turnaround, and implementation of Governor Carney’s plan following the Independent Review into the causes of the February 1 incident at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. She will work alongside Correction Commissioner Perry Phelps, and report to Governor Carney on implementation of the plan. DeMatteis, a Delaware attorney, also will issue publicly-available reports – at six months and one year after her appointment – that detail the state’s progress in implementing the Independent Review’s recommendations.

“We’re serious about getting this right. Claire is tough, she is independent-minded, and she has the judgement and credibility necessary to work alongside Commissioner Phelps and help us make real change,” said Governor Carney. “Her experience inside and outside of government will serve our state well. She is a skilled lawyer who knows how to execute on a plan, and hold people accountable. I’m confident that Claire is the right person for the job.”

“We owe it to the correctional officers, inmates and citizens of Delaware to get this right and resolve past deficiencies,” said DeMatteis. “We have a clear road map and mandate to make the needed changes.”

DeMatteis will help ensure that Commissioner Phelps can seamlessly continue to lead agency operations, while the two work together to implement reforms that the Governor and Commissioner have prioritized.

“I look forward to working closely with Claire to directly confront many of the issues facing our correctional system,” said Commissioner Phelps. “Her experience in government, and in the private sector, will help us put management practices into place that will make a real difference over the long-term.”

Appointment of a Special Assistant was a crucial element of Governor Carney’s plan to reform the Department of Correction.

Last week, Governor Carney and the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware announced an agreement to raise salaries for Delaware’s correctional officers – including a 22 percent increase to starting officer pay. The agreement, which includes establishment of a Labor-Management committee to study additional staffing issues, will help the state recruit and retain officers across Delaware’s correctional system.

Governor Carney’s DOC plan also includes:

  • Investing $2 million in new cameras and authorizing 50 additional correctional officer positions at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center;
  • Investing $1.3 million in new equipment and training for correctional officers;
  • Appointing a new Bureau Chief of Community Correction with expertise in managing re-entry programs and reducing recidivism;
  • Directing the Delaware State Police and the Department of Correction to jointly conduct an after-action review of the February 1 incident;
  • And directing the to-be-created Department of Human Resources to implement a comprehensive staffing plan that eliminates the shortage of correctional officers.

DeMatteis, who will begin work in July, has a diverse professional background in government, corporate governance and healthcare.

From 2013-2016, DeMatteis worked as general counsel and senior vice president at Affinity Health Plan Inc., where she was responsible for all legal, regulatory and compliance matters for the $1.4 billion corporation. She worked in a similar role as executive vice president, general counsel, and chief privacy officer for Catalina Marketing Corporation, a digital media marketing company.

Previously, DeMatteis spent four years at Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, a Mid-Atlantic law firm with offices in Wilmington. She was partner in charge of the firm’s Delaware office from 2007-2008.

During her decade working as senior counsel for then-Senator Biden, from 1994-2004, DeMatteis served as a member of a senior team on issues involving law enforcement, foreign policy, and constitutional matters. She helped guide campaign strategy, managed constituent communications and drafted legislation.

Most recently, DeMatteis served in a senior role at the Delaware Department of Labor, where she helped navigate resolution to the recent data breach at the department, keeping the media, public and legislators well informed on the state’s response and structural reforms to prevent future breaches.

DeMatteis earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware, and holds a law degree from Widener University Delaware Law School.


Related news:
Governor Carney, COAD Announce Agreement to Raise Correctional Officer Pay
Governor Carney Announces Plan to Address Recommendations of DOC Independent Review
Governor Carney Releases Initial Report of Department of Correction Independent Review