PITTSBURGH — All state prisons in Pennsylvania have been placed on an immediate lockdown after multiple unknown substance exposure incidents across the system.
According to the Department of Corrections, the problem has been especially bad in our area.
“The safety and security of our employees is my number one concern,” Secretary Wetzel said. “Our state prisons, especially those in the western part of the state, have experienced recent incidents in which employees have been sickened and we need to get to the bottom of this issue now.”
During the lockdown, all prison mail rooms are closed to non-legal mail, all visits are suspended, all employees will be required to wear protective equipment including gloves and all employees will undergo new training.
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Following the announcement from the Department of Corrections, the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Associations responded in agreement with the decision.
“The Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association commends the Wolf administration for locking down all state correctional institutions. Simply too many of our officers are becoming sick due to contraband being illegally brought into these facilities. We’re prepared to help our members who have been sickened — but we must put this dangerous problem to an end. It’s our hope the steps being taken today will do just that," an emailed statement said.
Channel 11 has covered at least five of these incidents since mid-July.
- On July 23, six staff members at SCI Mercer were hospitalized. One of those employees suffered an overdose and was revived using naloxone.
- Just one week later, on Aug. 13, four officers at SCI Greene were hospitalized after coming in contact with a substance while searching an inmate's property.
- Following that, on Aug, 14, six employees at SCI Butler were hospitalized with dizziness and increased heart rate after coming in contact with a substance.
- On Aug. 28, one employee at SCI Green was taken to the hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance.
In addition, more than 20 employees and inmates at an Ohio prison were taken to the hospital Wednesday after a similar unknown substance was discovered.
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