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.

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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


Governor Carney Announces Plan to Address Recommendations of DOC Independent Review

Plan includes appointment of Special Assistant to lead turnaround, and $2 million investment in cameras at JTVCC

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday released his plan to act on the recommendations of the initial report of the Independent Review into the causes of the February 1 incident at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.

“We should all take this Independent Review seriously,” said Governor Carney. “It’s time to focus on addressing the difficult problems facing our prisons. We cannot let this report collect dust on a shelf. Our plan would take appropriate action to address the review team’s recommendations, and to help enhance safety and security for correctional officers and inmates at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center and across Delaware’s correctional system.”

The Governor’s Plan will:

  • Appoint a temporary Special Assistant at the Department of Correction to spearhead reform of management practices, training and cultural turnaround. The position will report to the DOC Commissioner, but produce public reports at six months and a year, with a focus on implementation of the Independent Review’s recommendations.
  • Direct the Delaware State Police and DOC to meet and jointly conduct an after-action review of the February 1 incident to identify any appropriate improvement to incident management protocols and policy.
  • Allocate $2 million to purchase new cameras at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. Funding for the cameras will require approval by the General Assembly.
  • Direct the Delaware Department of Technology & Information to prepare a strategic technology plan for the Department of Correction, and to assume operational responsibility for technology needs across Delaware’s correctional system.
  • Continue Collective Bargaining with the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware (COAD) – which began in April – with the goal of increasing base pay for Delaware’s correctional officers and decreasing use of mandatory overtime.
  • Direct to-be-created Department of Human Resources to prepare and implement a staffing plan to eliminate the current shortage of correctional officers. The Department will report on progress every three months until the shortage is eliminated.
  • Recruit a new Bureau Chief of Community Correction with expertise in managing re-entry programs, and reducing recidivism. The new Bureau Chief will work with the Criminal Justice Council to deliver recommendations for improving re-entry programs, and reducing recidivism, to Governor Carney by November 2017.

Governor Carney’s budget proposal also includes investments related to the Independent Review team’s recommendations. His financial plan would increase annual hazardous duty pay for Delaware’s correctional officers, authorize new positions at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, and invest in new equipment that will help correctional officers respond to and prevent violent incidents.

“We are committed to addressing the issues facing our correctional system,” said Perry Phelps, Commissioner of the Delaware Department of Correction. “This plan will help us address the safety and security of our facilities, more effectively recruit and retain correctional officers, and invest in new equipment and technology that will help us operate more safely and efficiently.”

“We know the challenges we face in our prisons and now we have a blueprint for solving them,” said Senator Bruce Ennis, chair of the Senate Corrections & Public Safety Committee. “Now it’s up to the General Assembly to show the political courage to get this done for the brave men and women who put so much on the line to keep our prisons safe and orderly.”

“We need to address these longstanding issues at Delaware’s correctional facilities to better help our dedicated correctional officers and provide them with sustainable quality of life changes. The governor’s plan is multi-faceted and I am optimistic it will help us get to the root cause of these systemic issues. I am also encouraged to see that there is a priority to recruit a Bureau Chief of Community Correction with an expertise in managing re-entry programs,” said Representative James Johnson, chair of the House Corrections Committee. “We need to ensure that history does not repeat itself and we are bolstering our correctional system so the facilities are safe, secure and have the interests of both the inmates and staff in mind.”

“I thank the Governor for ordering this independent review, as well as Commissioner Phelps for taking the necessary steps to lead the Department of Correction. We are taking steps to address these issues in great part thanks to the work of Correctional Officers Association of Delaware members for being responsible and never wavering in advocating for correctional officers,” said Representative Larry Mitchell, vice-chair of the House Corrections Committee. “As vice-chair of Corrections we are going to do what we can to implement the recommendations.”

“I see this initiative as a series of positive strides forward, but this should only be the start of the journey,” said State House Minority Leader Danny Short. “State leaders need to commit to continue reviewing and improving the conditions in our prison system.”

“We have a duty to provide a secure environment inside the correctional system, both for the sake of our dedicated staff and for inmates they supervise,” said State House Minority Whip Deborah Hudson. “The actions announced by the governor constitute a down payment on satisfying that obligation.”

“For me, one of the most disturbing parts of the initial Independent Review were the observations made by the review team about the level of burnout among JTVCC staff, due in large part from the ‘excessive overtime that is being worked.’ I support the Governor’s plan of action and I am especially happy to see the priority that is being placed on the need to increase correctional officers’ base pay, provide additional training, and reduce the use of mandatory overtime,” said Representative Kevin Hensley, who represents the area in which the JTVCC facility is located.

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Governor Carney Releases Initial Report of Department of Correction Independent Review

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Friday released the initial report of the Independent Review into causes of the February 1 hostage incident at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. A final report is due to the Governor by August 15.

“I’d like to thank Judge Chapman and former U.S. Attorney Oberly. The review team has worked hard to examine the conditions that may have contributed to the February 1 incident, and to recommend changes that will help us improve security inside James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, and across Delaware’s correctional system,” said Governor Carney. “I am continuing to review the recommendations. But as I have said since February, we will take this report seriously. It will not collect dust on a shelf. We are committed to taking appropriate action that will enhance safety and security for Delaware’s correctional officers and inmates at Vaughn and at all of Delaware’s correctional facilities. We owe that to Lieutenant Floyd and all the victims of the February 1 incident.”

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Governor Carney Takes Steps to Address Security Concerns at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center

Measures include new staffing at JTVCC, equipment, security teams

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney announced on Monday that he is taking important steps to address security risks for employees and inmates at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC), and across Delaware’s correctional system, following the February 1 hostage incident.

Initial steps include:

  • An investment of $340,800 in new security and communications equipment to better equip correctional officers to respond to and prevent violent incidents at JTVCC and in Level V facilities statewide. Governor Carney will propose another $1.2 million for equipment purchases in his Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal – which will be released March 23.
  • Increasing the presence of specialized security teams and the frequency with which they perform random security sweeps at JTVCC.
  • A proposal in Governor Carney’s recommended Fiscal Year 2018 budget plan to add 50 correctional officers at JTVCC – and an increase of 25 correctional officers at the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution – at a total cost of $2.3 million.
  • The relaunch of a consistent email address – AskDOC@delaware.gov – to improve communication between family members of inmates and Department of Correction personnel. Family members can send questions and concerns to that address, or reach DOC personnel at (302) 857-5470.

The Delaware State Police and the Delaware Department of Justice continue to lead a criminal investigation into the events of February 1 and February 2, including the death of Lieutenant Steven Floyd. The Delaware Department of Correction is also conducting an internal investigation.

Given the duration of the criminal investigation and his sense of urgency surrounding this issue, Governor Carney also announced Monday that the Independent Review – led by Justice Henry duPont Ridgely and Judge William L. Chapman Jr. – will commence this week. The reviewers have contracted with the Police Foundation to assist in the review, and they will coordinate with the Delaware State Police and the Delaware Department of Justice to ensure they do not compromise any aspect of the criminal investigation.

“Once Justice Ridgely and Judge Chapman complete their review, I will take their recommendations seriously and take appropriate action to address safety and security risks at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center,” said Governor Carney. “In the meantime, however, it’s our responsibility to do whatever is in our power to make the environment at Vaughn safer for correctional officers and inmates. Prisons are inherently dangerous places. But everyone inside that prison, and their loved ones, deserves to know that their government takes their safety seriously, and that we’re doing what we can right now to right the ship at Vaughn.”

“Maintaining the security of James T. Vaughn Correctional Center and all of Delaware’s correctional facilities remains our number one priority,” said Perry Phelps, Commissioner of the Delaware Department of Correction. “The short-term investments in state-of-the art equipment will help our officers identify and respond to security threats, and longer-term investments in staffing, recruitment and officer training will go a long way to helping ensure public safety, and the safety and security of employees and inmates at all of our facilities.”

“I appreciate the governor taking these first steps toward addressing the issues facing our correctional system,” said Representative James “J.J.” Johnson, who chairs the House Corrections Committee. “While today’s announcement represents a positive step, we also must commit to looking at the whole issue and take action to rectify it. We cannot go halfway, and we cannot look at only one aspect. I look forward to hearing more in the coming weeks and months ahead as the independent review takes place.”

“I’m pleased to hear the Administration is taking important steps to beef up security in our prisons prior to the conclusion of the Vaughn investigation,” said Senator Bruce Ennis, who chairs the Senate Corrections & Public Safety Committee. “We must move swiftly to give our correctional officers the tools and resources necessary to keep our prisons safe while we consider broader staffing solutions and other recommendations that may come out of the independent investigation.”

“The severity of the situation in our correctional system requires swift action, not only to produce results in safety within the confines of our prisons, but also to restore the confidence of our correctional employees,” said Representative Deborah Hudson, the House Minority Whip. “I am hopeful that these measures will send an important message that we support their work. I also commend the Governor for working quickly to address these problems that are years long. The tragedy at the Vaughn Correctional Center happened after only weeks of the Governor taking office, and, already, he is showing his commitment to making immediate, as well as systemic, changes within our correctional system.”

The following is a fuller description of the measures the Governor is taking:

Equipment
The Governor has authorized the Department of Correction to work with the Office of Management and Budget to purchase new communications equipment to enable more effective coordination of officer response to incidents; equipment that will allow officers to conduct safer, more effective searches; and new protective gear for correctional officers.

Security Teams
The Department of Correction has increased the presence of specialized security teams and the frequency with which they perform random security sweeps at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. Where warranted, those identified as security threats are being relocated to higher-security housing units.

Officer Retention, Pay & Staffing
The Department of Correction and the Office of Management and Budget are working expeditiously to review and address recruitment and retention of quality correctional officers. This review includes an examination of hiring strategies and potential adjustments to the entry salary for correctional officers through collective bargaining starting in the spring.

Governor Carney will include an increase of 50 correctional officers at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center and a further increase of 25 correctional officers at the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution in his recommended budget for FY 2018. In addition, Governor Carney will recommend providing additional funding for correctional officer training, as well as funding to broaden recruitment efforts and advertising, to ensure correctional officer positions are filled as quickly as possible.

Communication
Family members of inmates may send questions and concerns to an email address – AskDOC@delaware.gov – that will be monitored by Department of Correction personnel. They also may contact the Department of Correction at (302) 857-5470. Department of Correction staff also now have access to a new, internal email to communicate concerns and ideas with agency leadership.

Correctional Officer Well-Being
The Department of Correction has worked with behavioral health volunteers from the Delaware Medical Reserve Corps and the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) Mobile Crisis Team in order to provide behavioral health support teams to correctional officers statewide. The Department has partnered with churches, police agencies, and other organizations to provide free services to DOC staff and their immediate family members since the February 1 incident. Additionally, the Department has worked with members of the Delaware Psychological Association to provide free short-term crisis counseling for DOC and provider staff affected by the incident.

Behavioral health resource guides have been distributed to DOC staff members who wish to find a provider in their community. DOC staff who sought faith-based support were provided contact information for the “Clergy Group” through the Salvation Army. Facility staff has been provided behavioral health support through partnerships with the K9 First Responder Therapy Dogs and Delaware’s Paws for People. During the incident, DOC worked with DSAMH’s Mobile Crisis, K9 First Responder Therapy Dogs, and the State’s Employee Assistance Program to provide behavioral health services within correctional facilities and directly to staff.

 

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Governor Carney Announces Selections to Lead Independent Review of Hostage Incident at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center

Governor signs order naming Justice Ridgely and Judge Chapman to lead review

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney signed Executive Order Two on Tuesday, appointing retired Delaware Supreme Court Justice Henry duPont Ridgely and retired Family Court Judge William L. Chapman, Jr. to lead the independent review into the February 1 hostage incident at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.

The review will begin following the completion of the Delaware State Police criminal investigation into the death of correctional officer Lieutenant Steven Floyd.

“As I have been saying since February 1, we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to find out exactly what happened inside James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, and what we can do to prevent this from happening again,” said Governor John Carney. “These are two well-respected judges who are independent thinkers, with legal background and analytical skills necessary to perform a thorough review and make necessary recommendations. I thank Justice Ridgely and Judge Chapman for their willingness to take on this difficult but important task.”

Justice Ridgely and Judge Chapman will review the events surrounding the hostage incident and related security issues at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, and make recommendations to help assure the safety and security of employees and inmates at the facility. Governor Carney, with his executive order, has directed the Department of Correction and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security to cooperate fully with the independent examination.

The reviewers will present a preliminary report by June 1 to Governor Carney that includes findings about what contributed to the hostage incident and initial recommendations to improve security at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. They will issue a final report to the Governor by August 15.

“This was a tragic incident that deserves a full and thorough independent examination,” said Justice Henry duPont Ridgely. “We will focus our efforts, first and foremost, on learning how this happened. And we will act with urgency to produce meaningful recommendations that would make Delaware’s correctional facilities more secure, and hopefully prevent this type of incident from happening again.”

“We will act expeditiously and with purpose to understand what happened at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center,” said Judge William L. Chapman, Jr. “We are committed to undertaking this review with independence, and the people of Delaware should feel confident that we will identify and recommend changes we believe are necessary to improve safety and security at the facility.”

Justice Ridgely is Senior Counsel at the global law firm DLA Piper and a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Delaware. Justice Ridgely served more than 30 years as a jurist in the Delaware Judiciary. He served as a Justice on the Delaware Supreme Court from 2004 until 2015 before joining DLA Piper. He served as a Judge on the Superior Court of Delaware from 1984 until 2004, including 14 years as the President Judge of the Court.

Judge Chapman is Chief Talent and Diversity Officer and Senior Counsel at Potter Anderson & Corroon. Prior to joining the firm, Judge Chapman served as a Family Court judge for the state of Delaware. He also served as Deputy Attorney General for the Delaware Department of Justice.