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Staffing Issues Create Volatile Situation in Philly Jails

Metro: Jack Tomczuk | August 31, 2021

A series of high-profile incidents inside Philadelphia’s prison system has led union leaders representing city correctional officers to push Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration to do more to secure the jails.

The challenges, officials from AFSCME District Council 33 Local 159 say, are being fueled by severe understaffing. Hundreds of correctional officers and other employees have left in recent months, the union said.

“On a daily basis, we get officers, administrative personnel, sergeants, lieutenants, captains, deputy wardens and wardens that just resign,” Local 159 Business Agent Eric Hill told Metro.

Dozens of inmates housed in multiple units at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center (PICC), the city’s second largest jail, forced officers to retreat and barricaded entrances for more than two hours on the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 20, Hill said.

They destroyed control panels, computer systems, windows and doors inside the units during the mini-riot, he added.

A city spokesperson confirmed the incident, describing it as a “major disturbance” encompassing two units. An emergency response team was able to get the inmates back into their cells, and no one was injured.

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