July 1, 2013

16 officers quit, transfer from prison


Associated Press

TRION — Sixteen corrections officers at a northwest Georgia prison have either quit or are transferring as a new warden is set to begin duty.

A Chattanooga newspaper reported Sunday that some corrections officers have said they’re not confident that new security measures will keep them safe after the prison ends a partial lockdown that has been in place since early February.

Officers now wear stab-proof vests and will soon carry pepper spray. State officials have also invested $2 million to upgrade the facility’s security system after an audit revealed many locks on cell doors had been broken since at least 2010.

The security upgrades were implemented in the wake of four inmate deaths at the prison in Trion — about 25 miles northwest of Rome.

The prisoners were killed between mid-December and early February and each man was killed by a fellow inmate. Former warden Clay Tatum has been replaced by Scott Crickmar, who is scheduled to begin duty Monday.

Seventeen officers quit in the last wave of mass departures in March 2012 after an employee was stabbed 21 times. The officer survived, but was seriously wounded with cuts to his head, face, back, neck, hand and both arms.  

“I don’t feel like (administrators) are concerned about my safety,” said Lester Duvall, a 14-year veteran who recently quit. “They weren’t concerned about anybody’s safety until it got out (about the faulty locks.) Now all these high-profile people are looking at it and they’re jumping through hoops.”

The latest wave of transfers and resignations comes while the Department of Corrections announced state prison officers will receive one-time bonuses of $100 for each year they’ve worked in the state prison system. The bonuses are capped at $1,000.