WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Thursday released an interim report of the Special Assistant at the Department of Correction. The six-month report publicly details progress in the Department of Correction’s efforts to implement recommendations made by the Independent Review into the events of February 1 and 2, 2017, at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.
“We are serious about implementing the recommendations of the Independent Review, and improving safety and security across our correctional system,” said Governor Carney. “We have more work ahead of us. Making lasting change won’t happen in a few short months. But as this report indicates, we are making progress. Thank you to Claire DeMatteis for all of her hard work, to Commissioner Phelps, to all of our correctional officers, and to everyone at the Department of Correction for their work and dedication.”
“The public should be encouraged by the level of activity throughout the Department of Correction to address improvements identified by the Independent Review team,” said Claire DeMatteis, Special Assistant. “The men and women of the Department of Correction are an experienced, dedicated, motivated, and determined group of leaders.”
“Since receiving the Independent Review, we have moved quickly to take action and implement the review team’s recommendations,” said Perry Phelps, Commissioner of the Department of Correction. “Addressing the challenges we face will require our focus and attention over the long-term. But all the people of the Department of Correction are committed to this work. I want to thank Claire for her partnership and every officer and member of the leadership team for their contributions.”
The interim report details progress to strengthen officer safety and training; efforts to boost officer recruitment and retention; initiatives to modernize corrections operations to enhance intelligence gathering and intelligence sharing; work to improve services and programming for inmates; and, efforts to improve the daily interaction and communication between officers and inmates and between officers and their supervisors.
Citing progress, Phelps and DeMatteis noted:
- Installation of dozens of cameras at JTVCC started last November;
- Additional trainings for all officers in risk management, de-escalation, communication, leadership and cultural competency skills;
- Initiatives at JTVCC to improve communication among officers, inmates and supervisors, including a new Inmates’ Advisory Council and Correctional Officers’ Advisory Council;
- Renewed focus at JTVCC on services for inmates, including educational and job training opportunities, library and religious services and increased commissary offerings.
“The Independent Review team recommendations focus mainly on JTVCC. However, the DOC is implementing reforms across all Level V facilities wherever possible,” said DeMatteis. “And, wherever possible, DOC leaders are working to implement changes that go even further than the IRT report calls for, as the interim report details.”
Last summer, Governor Carney appointed Claire DeMatteis – a former senior counsel to then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden – as Special Assistant to work alongside Correction Commissioner Perry Phelps in implementing the Independent Review team’s recommendations. DeMatteis produced the six-month report released on Thursday, and will release a follow-up, public report at the one-year mark of her appointment. The reports are intended to publicly detail the state’s progress in implementing the recommendations of the Independent Review.
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