The fatal prison uprising that occurred in February 2017 at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware demonstrates the understaffing issues affecting prisons nationwide. During the incident, prison inmates held six correctional officers and a counselor hostage in an 18-hour standoff, which resulted in the tragic death of one of the officers. After the uprising, about 200 correctional officers and medical staff members resigned or retired from the correctional facility. Attorneys at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. represented the family of the slain correctional officer in their wrongful death suit against several state officials. Ultimately, the state agreed to pay the Plaintiffs a record-setting settlement that topped $7.5 million.
At the time of the incident, only four guards were tasked with supervising more than 125 prisoners. The national average as reported by the Department of Justice is one guard per five inmates. Delaware is one of about 15 states in which officials cite understaffing as a major safety concern in their state facilities. Commonly, prisons address the problem by encouraging officers to work overtime instead of hiring more guards. In Delaware facilities, about 40 percent of the staff work overtime on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this may lead to future revolts that could endanger guards and other prison staff as well as inmates who may not be involved.
If you have been injured or suffered the wrongful death of a loved one due to another’s negligence, the Delaware wrongful death lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. have the knowledge and experience to achieve justice. To arrange a free consultation, contact us online or call 302-656-5445. From our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, we represent individuals and families throughout the state, including those in Dover, Delaware.