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Governor of the State of Delaware - Independent Review of Security Issues at the James T. Vaugn CC, 2017

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Final Report:
Independent Review of Security Issues at
the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center
Requested by the Honorable John C. Carney, Jr.,
Governor of the State of Delaware
on February 14, 2017

Led by:
The Honorable William L. Chapman, Jr.
And
The Honorable Charles M. Oberly, III
With Support from:

August 2017

FINAL REPORT: INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF SECURITY ISSUES AT THE JAMES T. VAUGHN CORRECTIONAL CENTER

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Acknowledgements
Judge (ret.) William L. Chapman and former Delaware Attorney General and United States
Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III, would like to thank the Police Foundation Team for their
assistance and support in undertaking this review. Police Foundation Team members include:1
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Frank Straub, PhD, Director, Strategic Initiatives, Police Foundation
Roger Werholtz, Commissioner (ret.) Kansas Department of Corrections, Corrections
Subject Matter Expert
Robert May, IJIS Institute, Corrections Subject Matter Expert
Jennifer Zeunik, Director, Programs, Police Foundation
Joyce Iwashita, Project Assistant, Police Foundation
Michelle Phillips, Project Associate, Police Foundation
Maria Valdovinos, Research Associate, Police Foundation
Ben Gorban, Policy Analyst, Police Foundation

We would also like to thank the people of Delaware who share in the goal of creating a safe and
healthy environment at the JTVCC, and assisted us with this review process. This extends the
staff of both the Delaware Department of Correction and James T. Vaughn Correctional Center
who took the time to provide our team with assistance, access, and honest and candid input.
Your perspective and experience have been invaluable.
Thank you to Christian L. Kervick, Executive Director of the Delaware Criminal Justice Council,
for guidance and support throughout this review.
We also appreciate the time granted to us by Delaware community members who provided us
with their input regarding the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.

1

Independent Review Team member bios are attached as Appendix C.

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Executive Summary
On February 1, 2017, the State of Delaware was confronted by the news of an ongoing incident
in which inmates housed in the C-Building at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC),
seized the building and took hostages. The seizure of the building resulted in the death of one
correctional sergeant;2 injuries sustained by two other correctional officers; one non-custodial
staff member being taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons; and, allegations of inmate
injuries.
On February 14, 2017, Governor John Carney issued an Executive Order establishing an
Independent Review Team to investigate and report on "any conditions at the James T. Vaughn
Center that contributed to the hostage situation on February 1, 2017.”3
In response to the Executive Order, the Independent Review Team conducted interviews with
correctional, educational, mental health and medical staff, including correctional supervisors,
JTVCC administrators, and Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) executive administrators
past and present. The Team also reviewed numerous letters from inmates and family members,
spoke with community and inmates’ rights groups, and interviewed other agency
representatives. The Independent Review Team also visited the JTVCC, including the C-Building,
observed grievance proceedings, and spoke with inmates individually and in focus groups. The
Team also conducted in depth research through review and analysis of policy, training and
other departmental documentation; open source media searches; and identification and gap
analysis of national corrections and behavioral health best and promising practices. Collectively,
the Independent Review Team conducted a comprehensive and thorough review and analysis
of the facts and circumstances leading up to the incident that began on February 1, 2017.
On June 1, 2017, the Independent Review Team issued a Preliminary Report concerning the
causes and conditions leading up to the incident that began on February 1, 2017. Since June 1,
2017, the Independent Review Team conducted further interviews and assessments. This Final
Report expands upon the Preliminary Report. It addresses actions taken by the JTVCC, the DOC,
and the State of Delaware since February 2017, and contains specific recommendations to
prevent, or at least minimize, the likelihood of another similar event.
The tragic incident that began on February 1, 2017 in the C-Building of the JTVCC could have
occurred elsewhere in the facility. Factors unique to that particular building, however, resulted
in the incident occurring there. For some period of time, conditions at the JTVCC had
deteriorated to the point that there was unrest among inmates, and distrust between inmates
and correctional officers, as well as between correctional officers and JTVCC administrators.
Factors giving rise to this unrest included adverse working conditions for the correctional
officers, who continue to feel unappreciated by the administration, inconsistently implemented
2
3

The Sergeant was posthumously promoted to Lieutenant.
Delaware Executive Order No. 2, 2017. The Delaware Executive Order 2 is attached as Appendix F.

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rules and regulations, an inmate grievance procedure deemed unfair, a distrusted
medical/mental health system, and a real lack of morale permeating the line officers.
The conditions set forth in this report created an environment in which an occurrence like the
incident that began on February 1, 2017 would have likely occurred at some point somewhere
within the JTVCC. However, the mix of inmates flowing down from maximum to medium
security and inmates flowing up from medium towards maximum security in the C-Building and
the circumstances giving rise to that mix, as more specifically set forth in the body of the report,
hastened the inevitable. Most unfortunately, the Independent Review Team believes that had
the request for the removal of certain inmates from the C-Building—made on January 20, 2017
by the very correctional officer who was killed during the incident that began on February 1,
2017—been taken more seriously and carried out, the incident and the resulting death may not
have occurred.4
As tragic as the unnecessary loss of life is, the incident that began on February 1, 2017
spearheaded long overdue changes in the DOC that will hopefully result in better working
conditions for the correctional officers and professional staff as well as living conditions for
inmates. Work remains to be done and recommendations are made herein.
Lastly, the Independent Review Team commends Governor Carney for his immediate action in
requesting this review and already addressing some of the most pressing problems facing the
DOC.

4

Due to the ongoing internal affairs investigation, the Independent Review Team was not able to determine
whether steps were taken to address Sgt. Floyd’s request to remove certain inmates from C-Building.
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Table of Contents
Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................... 2
Executive Summary ............................................................................................................... 3
Chapter 1. Introduction ......................................................................................................... 7
Purpose of this Final Report............................................................................................................. 7
Methodology.................................................................................................................................... 7
Limitations of this Report................................................................................................................. 8
Steps in the Right Direction: Actions taken by the State since February 2017 ............................... 8

Chapter 2. Background & Incident Overview ........................................................................ 12
Other Factors and Incidents Contributing to the Incident that Began on February 1, 2017 ......... 15

Chapter 3. Culture and Leadership ....................................................................................... 19
Overview ........................................................................................................................................ 19
Observations .................................................................................................................................. 21
Actions taken by the State since February 2017 ........................................................................... 25
Recommendations ......................................................................................................................... 26

Chapter 4. Staffing, Compensation, and Safety and Wellness ............................................... 29
Overview ........................................................................................................................................ 29
Observations .................................................................................................................................. 29
Actions taken by the State since February 2017 ........................................................................... 34
Recommendations ......................................................................................................................... 36

Chapter 5. Policies, Procedures, and Practices ...................................................................... 38
Overview ........................................................................................................................................ 38
Observations .................................................................................................................................. 38
Actions taken by the State since February 2017 ........................................................................... 42
Recommendations ......................................................................................................................... 43

Chapter 6. Officer Training ................................................................................................... 46
Overview ........................................................................................................................................ 46
Observations .................................................................................................................................. 46
Actions taken by the State since February 2017 ........................................................................... 48
Recommendations ......................................................................................................................... 49

Chapter 7. Communication .................................................................................................. 52
Overview ........................................................................................................................................ 52
Observations .................................................................................................................................. 52
Actions taken by the State since February 2017 ........................................................................... 55
Recommendations ......................................................................................................................... 56

Chapter 8. Equipment and Technology ................................................................................. 59
Overview ........................................................................................................................................ 59
Observations .................................................................................................................................. 59
Actions taken by the State since February 2017 ........................................................................... 62
Recommendations ......................................................................................................................... 62

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Chapter 9. Inmate Health, Programs, and Resources ............................................................ 65
Overview ........................................................................................................................................ 65
Observations .................................................................................................................................. 65
Actions taken by the State since February 2017 ........................................................................... 71
Recommendations ......................................................................................................................... 72

Chapter 10. Building Trust and Legitimacy ........................................................................... 75
Overview ........................................................................................................................................ 75
Observations .................................................................................................................................. 76
Actions taken by the State since February 2017 ........................................................................... 77
Recommendations ......................................................................................................................... 78

Conclusion........................................................................................................................... 80
Acronym List ....................................................................................................................... 81
Glossary .............................................................................................................................. 82
Appendix A: Full Listing of Recommendations ...................................................................... 84
Appendix B: Methodology ................................................................................................... 88
On-site data collection ................................................................................................................... 88
Off-site data collection................................................................................................................... 89
Analysis .......................................................................................................................................... 89
Development of Recommendations .............................................................................................. 90

Appendix C: About the Team .............................................................................................. 91
Appointed Independent Reviewers ............................................................................................... 91
Police Foundation Team ................................................................................................................ 91

Appendix D: About the Police Foundation ............................................................................ 94
Appendix E: Inmate Letters from the JTVCC ......................................................................... 95
Appendix F: State of Delaware Executive Order #2 ............................................................. 102
Appendix G: Preliminary Report ........................................................................................ 106

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Chapter 1. Introduction
On Wednesday, February 1, 2017, inmates housed in the C-Building of the James T. Vaughn
Correctional Center (JTVCC) took control of the C-Building unit and held the staff and several
inmates hostage. The hostage situation lasted into the early hours of Thursday, February 2,
ultimately resulting in the death of one correctional sergeant; injuries sustained by two other
correctional officers; one non-custodial staff member being taken to the hospital for
precautionary reasons; and, allegations of inmate injuries.
On February 14, 2017, through Executive Order 2, Governor Carney commissioned an
independent review of the JTVCC to determine contributors and causes (if possible) of the
incident that began on February 1, 2017.5 The review required a preliminary report6 due June 1,
2017, and a more detailed final report to be submitted in August 2017.

Purpose of this Final Report
This final report builds on the analysis, findings, and recommendations laid out in the
Preliminary Report. It also provides more context and depth to the preliminary observations
and addresses the steps that the JTVCC, the Delaware Department of Correction (DOC), and the
State of Delaware have taken since the incident. Each of the chapters in this final report delve
into the topics identified as directly and indirectly contributing to the incident that began on
February 1, 2017 in more detail, expands on the findings and recommendations issued in the
preliminary report, and includes additional findings and recommendations that tie back to the
event.

Methodology
The Police Foundation has a proven history of a commitment to learning and change by
conducting in-depth, independent incident and organizational reviews. Recent Police
Foundation critical incident reviews include:
•
•

5
6

Bringing Calm to Chaos: A critical incident review of the San Bernardino public safety
response to the December 2, 2015 terrorist shooting incident at the Inland Regional
Center
Managing the Response to a Mobile Mass Shooting: A Critical Incident Review of the
Kalamazoo, Michigan, Public Safety Response to the February 20, 2016, Mass Shooting
Incident

The Delaware Executive Order 2 is attached as Appendix F.
The Preliminary Report is attached as Appendix G.

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•
•

Maintaining First Amendment Rights and Public Safety in North Minneapolis: An AfterAction Assessment of the Police Response to the Protests, Demonstrations, and
Occupation of the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct
Critical Incident Review of the Orlando Public Safety Response to the Orlando Pulse
Nightclub Terrorist Shooting (Soon to be Released)

Upon being selected to support Judge (ret.) William L. Chapman, Jr. and former Delaware
Attorney General and U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III, on the review of the JTVCC, the
Police Foundation created an Incident Review team comprised of subject matter experts in
corrections, public safety, and critical incident response. The team developed and executed a
comprehensive methodology to critically and objectively review and assess the incident, and
circumstances leading up to it in order to develop findings and recommendations for improving
security at the JTVCC. The methodology includes an extensive review of DOC and JTVCC
policies, procedures, practices, and training materials; interviews of current and former
Delaware DOC and JTVCC administrators; site visits, tours, and director observation of the
JTVCC; focus groups and interviews of JTVCC correctional personnel, contractual personnel, and
inmates; interviews of key stakeholders such as advocacy groups and union leadership; and,
reviews of relevant literature and media coverage. A more detailed methodology is attached in
Appendix B.

Limitations of this Report
Administrators and staff of the State of Delaware, the Delaware DOC, and the JTVCC provided
the Independent Review Team exceptional access and assistance in gathering information for
this review. They should all be commended for their assistance and support throughout this
process.
Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, the Independent Review Team did, however, face
some restrictions regarding the details related to the incident that began on February 1, 2017.
The team did not, for example, access police investigative reports, DOC Internal Affairs or some
other reports involved in the ongoing criminal investigation. These parameters were put in
place to ensure that the criminal investigation is not compromised in any way, and to maintain
the integrity and focus of this independent review.

Steps in the Right Direction: Actions taken by the State since February 2017
The State of Delaware has taken myriad steps to improve conditions at the JTVCC and to
improve the overall status of corrections in Delaware since the hostage-taking incident on
February 1, 2017. On February 14, 2017, Governor John C. Carney signed an Executive Order7 to
7

Delaware Executive Order No. 2, 2017.

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launch an independent review into the security of the JTVCC to, “review the events surrounding
the hostage incident and related security issues at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.”8
Governor Carney appointed Judge (ret.) William L. Chapman, Jr. and former Delaware Attorney
General and United States Attorney, Charles M. Oberly, III, to lead this work. The Police
Foundation was selected to support the work, provide corrections subject matter expertise,
conduct interviews, identify findings and recommendations, and draft preliminary and final
reports.
In May, the DOC announced the appointment of a new Chief of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and
a new warden of the JTVCC.9 Recognizing the security challenges that the JTVCC faced, the new
BOP chief temporarily reassigned an administrative executive from the Howard R. Young
Correctional Institution—another Delaware prison—to the JTVCC to serve as Security
Superintendent. In this role, the Security Superintendent will ensure that many of the safety
and security issues that contributed to the February 1, 2017 incident are addressed.
Figure 1: Delaware Department of Correction Modified Organizational Chart 10
Commissioner,
Department of
Correction

Office of the
Commissioner

Bureau Chief,
Administratiive
Services

Bureau Chief,
Community
Corrections

Bureau Chief,
Correctional
Healthcare Services

Bureau Chief, Prisons

Wardens of all
facilities including
James T. Vaughn
Correctonal Center

8

“Governor Carney Announces Selections to Lead Independent Review of Hostage Incident at James T. Vaughn
Correctional Center,” State of Delaware, February 14, 2017, http://news.delaware.gov/2017/02/14/governorcarney-announces-selections-to-lead-independent-review-of-hostage-incident-at-james-t-vaughn-correctionalcenter/.
9
DJ McAneny, “Delaware DOC introduces new Bureau Chief of Prisons, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center
Warden,” May 19, 2017, WDEL, http://www.wdel.com/news/delaware-doc-introduces-new-bureau-chief-ofprisons-james-t/article_610b4ff2-3cd6-11e7-ae3c-2fe9379d1ced.html.
10
Full organizational chart retrieved from Department of Correction, last revised January 23, 2017,
http://www.doc.delaware.gov/downloads/DOC_Org_Chart_012017.pdf.
FINAL REPORT: INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF SECURITY ISSUES AT THE JAMES T. VAUGHN CORRECTIONAL CENTER

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On June 2, 2017, the preliminary report of this Independent Review Team was released. The
preliminary report evaluated policies, procedures, practices and technology at the facility and
within the DOC that directly or indirectly contributed to the incident. The report also provided
recommendations that, if taken, may prevent a similar incident and could improve the safety,
security and operations of the JTVCC and the DOC.
On June 3, 2017, Governor Carney signed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget, which included $16
million to fund salary increases for correctional officers across experience levels and $2.3
million to authorize new correctional officer positions.11 A newly created Labor-Management
committee was also created to examine: officer recruitment and retention, use of mandatory
overtime, transitioning to 12-hour shifts, implementing physical fitness testing, creating a
career ladder, and revising the DOC “freeze” policy.12
Also in June 2017, Governor Carney named a Special Assistant at the DOC to spearhead DOC
reforms, and the DOC selected a new Bureau Chief of Community Correction to focus on
improving re-entry programs and reducing recidivism.13
Likewise, in June 2017, the DOC issued an updated training plan for fiscal year (FY) 2018/19,
improving upon training for DOC staff.14
On July 5, 2017, the DOC Preliminary Progress Report (Provided in Response to the JTVCC
Independent Review Preliminary Report) was released by the DOC Office of the Commissioner.
The progress report outlined how the state will address all of the recommendations in the
preliminary report.15
In August 2017, the new Bureau Chief of Prisons issued updated DOC directives and policies
including a directive addressing the use of handheld video cameras during cell extractions,
forced moves, and incidents of planned use of force; an updated BOP policy on classification;

11

“Governor Carney Signs Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Plan, Capping General Assembly Session,” State of Delaware,
July 3, 2017, http://news.delaware.gov/2017/07/03/governor-carney-signs-fiscal-year-2018-budget-plan-cappinggeneral-assembly-session/.
12
“Investing in the Department of Correction: Agreement with COAD,” State of Delaware, uploaded June 24, 2017,
http://governor.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/06/COAD-Agreement-FY2017-FY2019.pdf.
13
Esteban Parra, “Former Joe Biden senior counsel to spearhead reform at state DOC,” The News Journal, June 28,
2017, http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2017/06/28/former-joe-biden-senior-counselspearhead-reform-delaware-doc/435655001/; Esteban Parra, “DOC picks chief to oversee re-entry programs in
Delaware prison system,” The News Journal, June 29, 2017,
http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2017/06/29/doc-picks-chief-oversee-re-entry-programsdelaware-prison-system/440696001/.
14
DOC Training Plan FY 2018/19, provided to Independent Review Team by DOC Executive via email, August 16,
2017, reviewed by Independent Review Team August 2017.
15
DOC Preliminary Progress Report, provided by DOC to Independent Review Team, July 5, 2017, in response to
Preliminary Report: Independent Review of Security Issues at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, reviewed by
Independent Review Team July – August 2017.
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and an updated BOP policy on the range of services used to address offender needs through
screenings and assessments.16
The State of Delaware, the Delaware DOC, and the JTVCC are to be commended for these initial
steps on critical issues, and for their commitment to continuing to enhance the security and
work environment department-wide through this review. There is more work to be done—but
these steps and the continued efforts made by individuals throughout the DOC, especially at
the JTVCC—will lay the groundwork for positive changes in policy, procedure, security, systems,
and relationships in the JTVCC and at correctional facilities throughout Delaware.

16

Directive – Video Recording Planned Use of Force, provided by DOC to Independent Review Team, August 14,
2017, reviewed by Independent Review Team August 2017; Bureau of Prisons Policy 3.3: Classification, provided by
DOC to Independent Review Team, August 14, 2017, reviewed by Independent Review Team August 2017; Bureau
of Prisons Policy 3.4: Range of Services, provided by DOC to Independent Review Team, August 14, 2017, reviewed
by Independent Review Team August 2017.
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Chapter 2. Background & Incident Overview
The C-Building is one of the older of 18 housing units on the JTVCC campus. Housing units at
JTVCC are assigned minimum, medium, or maximum security levels based on the inmates that
are housed therein. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, minimum security generally
includes dormitory housing and a relatively low staff-to-inmate ratio; medium security includes
cell-type housing, more-controlled inmate movement, and a higher staff-to-inmate ratio; and
maximum security includes the highest staff-to-inmate ratio and close control of inmate
movement.17

Aerial view of the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. Photo: Esri, U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service
Agency, Microsoft.

The JTVCC C-Building is divided into three wings (tiers): A, B, and C. The building was designed
to house approximately 40 maximum security inmates on each tier—with two inmates assigned
to each cell—for a total capacity of 135 inmates.18 In 2000, when the Medium-High Housing
17

“About Our Facilities,” Federal Bureau of Prisons, last accessed August 17, 2017,
https://www.bop.gov/about/facilities/federal_prisons.jsp.
18
“F-6 Capacity of each housing unit by security level and census of facility on February 1, 2017,” provided by DOC
to Independent Review Team, May 17, 2017, reviewed by Independent Review Team May – August 2017.
FINAL REPORT: INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF SECURITY ISSUES AT THE JAMES T. VAUGHN CORRECTIONAL CENTER

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Unit (MHU) and the Security Housing Unit (SHU) were opened, the security level of the CBuilding was reclassified from maximum to medium security, but was informally designated
“medium-high”—which was defined as housing inmates in a building with a medium security
classification, but excluding them from many programs and other opportunities.19 The
designation was also made to facilitate the transition of inmates from maximum security
housing to a lower security level housing unit as well as to transition inmates to maximum
security, known as “flowing up” and “flowing down.”20
As a building housing “medium-high” inmates, the C-Building was considered fully staffed with
one sergeant and three correctional officers on each shift. During the day shift, a counselor was
assigned to the building to perform case management duties but did not assist in custodial
duties. At the time of the incident that began on February 1, 2017, the custodial staff on duty in
the C-Building ranged in experience from less-than-one year to 16 years of service.21
On February 1, 2017, one hundred twenty-seven (127) inmates occupied the C-Building.22
Although the building had few rehabilitation and educational programs or job opportunities for
inmates, all inmates were eligible to participate in outdoor recreation in an open yard—with no
recreational apparatuses such as workout equipment or basketball courts—adjacent to the
building.23 While most of the inmates took advantage of the opportunity to go outside, some
opted to spend their recreation time outside of their cells participating in recreation, showers,
and phone calls on the tier.24 Three correctional officers remained in the housing unit to
oversee indoor recreation, the counselor remained in her office, and the fourth officer
proceeded to the outside post to observe outdoor recreation. At approximately 10:30 a.m., the
inmates in the yard were notified by the C-Building officer overseeing recreation in the yard to
return to the building as outdoor recreation time had concluded.25
Upon re-entering the building, a group of inmates seized control of both the building and the
staff members inside—three correctional officers and the correctional counselor.26 Some
inmates were also taken hostage.27 A fourth officer, who followed standard security practice by
leaving his keys to the C-Building with one of the officers inside prior to exiting the unit to

According to the design capacity study conducted by Tera-Tech INC. in 2000, C-Building’s designed capacity is 68
inmates, but typically houses 115. The building was extremely overcrowded. It was also noted that because the
wings (tiers) were so small, direct supervision of each area is impossible. The housing unit has no dayroom
adjacent to the living area.
19
Independent Review Team interview, July 20, 2017; email from JTVCC counseling staff member, August 18, 2017.
20
Independent Review Team focus group with correctional officers, May 4, 2017.
21
Independent Review Team interview, May 2, 2017.
22
C-Building roster provided by JTVCC to Independent Review Team, May 16, 2017.
23
Independent Review Team observations at the JTVCC, May 2, 2017.
24
Independent Review Team interview with DOC executives, May 2, 2017.
25
Independent Review Team phone call with a JTVCC staff member, August 17, 2017.
26
Independent Review Team interviews with DOC executives, May 2-3, 2017.
27
Ibid.
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oversee outdoor recreation, was locked outside.28 Additionally, three maintenance workers
who had been working on boilers in the basement of C-Building were trapped inside the
basement, separated from the inmates and hostages upstairs.29
As soon as the incident began, one of the correctional officers, prior to being taken hostage,
used his two-way radio to send a staff-wide request for immediate assistance in the CBuilding.30 Administration executives at the JTVCC and the Delaware Department of Correction
(DOC) were notified of the incident and issued a statewide lockdown order to prevent a
coordinated inmate protest throughout the DOC system.31 Consistent with the DOC emergency
response plan, JTVCC administrators requested that emergency medical services (EMS) and fire
resources be dispatched to the JTVCC in case of injuries, fires or other events that would
require an immediate response. The JTVCC warden also followed standard security protocols
and had the water and phones in the C-Building turned off until further notice.32
At 11:03 a.m., the inmates used a radio taken from one of the officers who was being held
hostage to request to speak with Governor Carney. Shortly thereafter, the inmates radioed an
initial list of demands. A JTVCC negotiator answered the radio and began communicating with
the inmates. One of the initial demands included having the phones and water turned back on,
which was promptly done.33
Over the next several hours, the JTVCC negotiator and negotiators from the Delaware State
Police, continued to communicate with the inmates to resolve the incident.34 At 2:30 p.m., one
of the correctional officers and a second group of inmates being held hostage, were released.35
Shortly after 7:50 p.m., a second correctional officer was released with another group of
inmates that were also being held hostage.36
One of the maintenance workers in the basement was able to use a radio channel not
monitored by the inmates to communicate with responders outside of C-Building.37 Based on
this communication, at 10:10 p.m., responders initiated a rescue effort.38 The maintenance
workers were told to use the stairwell to make their way to the roof of C-Building. Once they
exited the door and were on the roof, the DOC Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT)

28

Ibid.
Independent Review Team interviews with DOC executives, May 2-3, 2017; Independent Review Team interview
with former DOC staff member, May 19, 2017.
30
Independent Review Team interviews with DOC executives, May 2-3, 2017.
31
Independent Review Team interview with DOC executive, May 3, 2017.
32
Ibid.
33
Ibid.
34
Independent Review Team interview with DOC executive, May 2, 2017.
35
Independent Review Team interview with DOC executive, May 3, 2017.
36
Ibid.
37
Independent Review Team interview with DOC executive, May 2, 2017.
38
Independent Review Team interview with DOC executive, May 3, 2017.
29

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used ladders to bring them down from the roof. The successful rescue of the maintenance
workers was completed at 10:57 p.m.39
As the incident progressed into the early morning of February 2nd, at 12:24 a.m. the final group
of inmates still being held hostage with the building sergeant and counselor were released.
However, neither the sergeant nor the counselor were released with them. Negotiations
continued through the early morning hours for their safe release.40
While these negotiations were ongoing, executives from the JTVCC, the DOC, the Delaware
State Police, and other supporting agencies coordinated, planned, and prepared to rescue the
hostages and regain control of the C-Building. At 5:06 a.m., DOC CERT and a Delaware State
Police Special Operations Response Team entered the building through B-tier followed by a
second tier entry minutes later.41 The teams successfully located the counselor and building
sergeant. The counselor was rescued safely and was taken by ambulance to the hospital for
precautionary reasons. The sergeant was located; however, he was deceased.42

Other Factors and Incidents Contributing to the Incident that Began on February 1,
2017
During interviews and focus groups conducted by the Independent Review Team, JTVCC
employees and inmates identified management and operational issues and inadequate
response to prior incidents as having the most direct impact on the incident that began on
February 1, 2017. Inconsistent management and the lack of communication in the C-Building
and at the JTVCC as a whole, compounded by the inconsistent transfer and utilization of
intelligence information regarding inmate activities, hindered actions that may have prevented
the incident that began on February 1, 2017. Lack of action following a potential inmate protest
in the C-Building on January 15, 2017, did little to discourage a subset of inmates from acting
out again. Excessive overtime, fatigued and disgruntled JTVCC staff, animosity between JTVCC
staff and between staff and inmates, inmate allegations of inappropriate conduct by some
correctional staff, inconsistent discipline, and structural characteristics also contributed to
cultivating an environment vulnerable to violence in the C-Building and the JTVCC.43
On January 15, 2017, inmates housed on the A and B tiers of the C-Building refused to return to
their cells after recreation until they spoke with a supervisor regarding the conditions in C-

39

Ibid.
Ibid.
41
Ibid; Independent Review Team phone conversation with a Delaware State Police executive, August 23, 2017.
42
Independent Review Team interview with DOC executive, May 3, 2017.
43
Independent Review Team interviews with DOC executives, current and former JTVCC staff members and
executives, and JTVCC inmates, May 1-5 and 18-19, 2017, July 17-21, 2017.
40

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Building.44 While the incident was peacefully resolved by supervisory staff, in the days following
that event, correctional officers identified inmates that they believed were primarily
responsible for the January 15, 2017 incident and notified their supervisors that those inmates
should be removed—at least temporarily—from the C-Building for security purposes.45 One of
the officers that identified certain inmates was the sergeant who was found deceased following
the incident that began on February 1, 2017. Some other supervisors supported the effort, but
based on an email written by the warden, it appears that some JTVCC administrators believed
that the inmates’ disciplinary records did not support their transfer to the Security Housing Unit
(SHU).46 Because there were no other housing units on the JTVCC compound that could house
“medium high” security level inmates, supervisors believed that the SHU was the only place
these inmates could be moved.47
While “administrative status”—a pre-detention transfer to higher security level that can be
implemented at the institutional level—was an option, the correctional officers and some of
the first-line supervisors believed that even if the transfers had been made, more senior JTVCC
officials would have overruled them and transferred the inmates back to the C-Building to avoid
grievances and/or lawsuits. 48 The Watch Commanders at the JTVCC were constantly told that
pre-hearing detention and administrative transfers should not be used if the inmates’
disciplinary record did not warrant an increase in security level.49 Many supervisors at JTVCC
informed higher level administrators about the tension brewing in C-Building and informed
them that something needed to be done.50 Unfortunately, those supervisor’s concerns were
dismissed.51 These issues contributed to JTVCC Watch Commanders’ uncertainty regarding their
authority to move or transfer inmates, and may have directly contributed to the February 1st
incident.52
In November 2016, a JTVCC administrator sent an email instituting a temporary policy change
to JTVCC Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 4.2: Rules of Conduct for Offenders, in response
to the Settlement Agreement and Order in the Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. v. Robert M.
Coupe litigation (CLASI agreement) that resulted, among other changes, in increased
recreational time for those held in solitary confinement, including for inmates suffering from
mental illness. The changes also pertained to restrictive housing units and inmate recreation
44

Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC line officers and supervisors, May 4, 5, and 19, and July 20,
2017; Independent Review Team review of C-Building January 15, 2017 incident report, May 19, 2017.
45
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC line officers and supervisors, May 4, 5, 18, and 19, and July 20,
2017.
46
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC supervisors, May 5 and 19, and July 20, 2017.
47
Ibid.
48
Bureau of Prisons Policy 4.3: Restrictive Housing, Delaware Department of Corrections; Independent Review
Team interviews with JTVCC line officers and supervisors, May 4, 5, and 19, and July 20, 2017.
49
Ibid.
50
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members May 4, 5, and 19, and July 20, 2017.
51
Ibid.
52
Due to the ongoing internal affairs investigation, the Independent Review Team was not able to determine
whether steps were taken to address Sgt. Floyd’s request to remove certain inmates from C-Building.
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schedules. Under the new directive, correctional staff were no longer able to revoke certain
inmate privileges (see Figure 2, below).
Figure 2: Email Excerpt Regarding SOP 4.2 Sent to All JTVCC Correctional Staff from Warden53

Because no official interpretation of the settlement and the associated legal documents were
disseminated throughout the DOC, and no directives were reviewed or approved by the
Attorney General, it seems that individual facilities interpreted and implemented them
differently. In fact, while this change in practice had been successfully implemented at other
DOC facilities in Delaware, the JTVCC executives’ interpretation and the implementation of the
settlement without thorough consideration given to the mix of inmates moved to the C-building
gave inmates considerable leverage not to follow instructions, further angering officers who
already felt that they were not supported at the highest levels.54 The misinterpretation was
further exacerbated in the C-Building by the sergeant, who was directed by the JTVCC
administrators to interpret the policy change as requiring all inmates to participate in
recreation at the same time, instead of limiting recreation to one tier at a time in order to
control movement.
Additional long-term challenges with the overall culture and leadership at the JTVCC—
resources and staffing, recruitment and retention; policies, procedures and practices; officer
training; communication; equipment and technology; programs and jobs to facilitate successful
reentry into the community upon release; and trust and legitimacy—exacerbated already tense
relationships between staff and inmates, and between staff members. Issues in all of these
areas also weakened the security of the facility to the point that two separate incidents
occurred in two weeks.
While this report identifies numerous issues within the DOC that collectively created tenuous
relationships between inmates and correctional officers and between staff members, all of
which contributed in some respect to an environment ripe for an incident such as the one that

53

Email from JTVCC warden to all correctional staff, November 16, 2016, provided to the Independent Review
Team by a DOC executive in July 2017, reviewed by Independent Review Team July – August 2017.
54
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC line officers and executives, May 4 and July 19, 2017.
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began on February 1, 2017, the fact that the incident occurred in the C-Building was hastened
by the unique make-up of that building's inmates.

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Chapter 3. Culture and Leadership
Overview
Corrections agencies that have made great and rapid improvements
generally have strong leadership that sets clear and measurable
goals; a plan for achieving those goals; an explanation to all staff
regarding their role in accomplishing the task; and skills and
training needed to succeed.

The prison community is a relational system in which a number of persons, inmates and
correctional personnel, interact with one another according to specially-prescribed rules of
behavior.55 The official in the lowest ranks of the custodial bureaucracy - the correctional officer
assigned to housing units, the recreation yard, and programs – is the pivotal figure on which the
bureaucracy turns. It is the correctional officer who must supervise and control the inmate
population in concrete and detailed terms. Counting prisoners, periodically checking groups of
inmates as they come and go, searching for contraband or signs of attempts to escape – these
make up the minutiae of their shift. In addition, the officer should be alert for violations of
rules. Not only must the officer detect and report deviant behavior after it occurs; the officer
must curb deviant behavior before it arises as well as when the officer is called on to prevent a
minor quarrel among inmates from flaring into a more dangerous situation. The correctional
officer’s position as a strict enforcer of the rules is undermined by the fact that the officer finds
that it is almost impossible to avoid claims of reciprocity. To a large extent the correctional
officer is dependent on the inmates for the satisfactory performance of her/his duties.
Ultimately, the correction officer is under pressure to achieve a smoothly running tour of duty
not with the stick but with the carrot.56
The preliminary report indicated that during interviews with management, staff, and
stakeholders from the Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) and offenders, the
Independent Review Team noted no unifying sense of purpose or method at the James T.
Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC). No correctional officer interviewed was able to articulate a
consistent description of what was expected of them as an employee of the DOC. In fact, the
only consistent answer provided by correctional officers was that their goal was to get through
their shift safely so that they could go home. Supervisors also described inconsistency in how
they supervised staff at the JTVCC, as well as inconsistency throughout the organization.
Inmates also expressed frustration with the erratic interpretations of rules and policies, as well
as enforcement of those rules and policies by the staff. Correctional officers advised the
Independent Review Team that the lack of uniformity in the implementation and enforcement
55

G. A. Adetula et al., “The Prison Subsystem Culture: Its Attitudinal Effects on Operatives, Convicts and the Free
Society,” Ife Psychologia: An International Journal 18, no. 1 (2010): 189-205.
56
Gresham M. Sykes, The Society of Captives: A Study of a Maximum Security Prison (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1958), 53-57.
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of rules was, and continues to be, the norm. Not only are rules enforced differently from
institution to institution, but at the JTVCC they were, and continue to be, enforced differently
from building to building and even shift to shift.57

Map of the four DOC Level V facilities. Photo: Esri, U.S. Census Bureau, Infogroup, Earthstar Geographics.

Almost everyone interviewed by the Independent Review Team also described poor
communication regarding policies, operational changes, and day-to-day occurrences and issues.
This contributed to an overall operation and management system where the mantra “getting
through the day” was the norm. In the resulting environment, most everyone—administrators,
57

Independent review team interviews with JTVCC staff members, May 4-5, 2017, and July 17-21, 2017.

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supervisors, line staff, and inmates—operated in an environment in which there was a lack of
structure and order, rather than actually achieving a purpose, and ended up “doing their own
thing” rather than following a clear and unified plan or strategy.

Frequent Factors in Prison Riots:
In their seminal study of prison riots, Bert Useem and Peter Kimball, identified the
breakdown of administrative control and operation of the correctional facility as a
consistent factor in all of the riots they studied. In fact, they opined that “prison riots are
a product of that breakdown and should be thought of as such.” The Independent
Review Team similarly identified constituent elements of this breakdown at the JTVCC –
inconsistent and incoherent rules for inmates and correctional officers; instability within
the correctional chain of command; weak administrators; public dissent among
correctional actors; and the disruption of everyday routines.
Source: Bert Useem and Peter Kimball, States of Siege: U.S. Prison Riots, 1971-1986 (New York: Oxford
University Press), 218-219.

Observations
The culture at the JTVCC is adversarial and not conducive to a safe facility
During the Independent Review Team’s initial visit to the JTVCC, a pervasive culture of
negativity at the facility was apparent. The Independent Review Team was told of, and
observed, adversarial relationships between staff and administration and between staff
members and inmates; the devaluing of programs intended to rehabilitate inmates and prepare
them for success upon release; and, an overall atmosphere of disrespect.58
In follow-up site visits, the accuracy of those initial impressions were reinforced. The team
again had the opportunity to speak with current and former JTVCC staff—from the highest
positions in administration to the line level correctional officers—and was provided additional
contact with inmates. The information provided by all was remarkably consistent. Below are
two comments that specifically relate to the culture at the JTVCC.
“The culture of respect was not there. We knew this was going to happen.” [In reference
to the incident that began on February 1, 2017].59
“Some groups of officers feel empowered to be vulgar, provocative and harassing to
inmates.”60
58

It must be noted that there have been allegations of consistent mistreatment, neglect, and abuse by the JTVCC
staff towards inmates, both prior to and after the incident that began on February 1, 2017.
59
Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC executive, July 17-21, 2017.
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Additionally, the adversarial relationship between the JTVCC staff and the inmates created a
culture of persistent permissiveness for some officers to devalue inmates. During focus group
interviews with the Independent Review Team, many inmates reported being denied items
they consider basic human needs.61 In fact, there were many allegations and multiple
grievances and complaints filed by inmates about JTVCC staff.62 These allegations include: lack
of medical treatment, access to toiletries, access to law materials, and other forms of
mistreatment.63
Some inmates alleged that after the incident that began on February 1, 2017, members of the
DOC Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT) came into the C-Building wearing
“masks”—which were identified later as balaclavas—and forced the inmates out of their cells.64
This was supported by a JTVCC correctional officer, who also added that CERT members
intentionally wore balaclavas so that they were unidentifiable to inmates. While the inmates
were out of their cells, the CERT members proceeded to “shake down” the cells, searching for
contraband. Due to the fact that they were masked, the CERT members had the opportunity to
intentionally or unintentionally destroy or discard the offenders’ personal property, without
being identified.65 Examples included toothbrushes thrown on the floor and pictures and legal
papers damaged or walked on (for more about shakedown procedures see chapter 5).66
Another allegation is that toilet paper was only distributed on one shift and no exceptions were
made if an inmate ran out before that shift.67
Actions by staff members, before and after the incident that began on February 1, 2017, not
only made the facility a more dangerous place to work, but also make communities less safe
once offenders subjected to these conditions are released. A substantial body of research
60

Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC line officer, July 17, 2017. It should be noted that the
Independent Review Team saw no evidence that this behavior was true of the majority of uniformed staff at the
JTVCC. However, there were JTVCC staff who indicated that there was no attempt to stop this behavior and they
subsequently became discouraged, apathetic and resigned to the situation.
61
Independent Review Team focus groups with JTVCC inmates, May 4, 2017.
62
The Independent Review Team is unaware if these allegations have been, or are being investigated, however the
DOC administration has been made aware of the allegations. The Independent Review Team does not have
information to substantiate any of the allegations made by any of the complainants.
63
Independent Review Team focus group with JTVCC inmates May 4, 2017; Independent Review Team observation
of grievance hearings, July 19, 2017; Inmate letters forwarded by the ACLU and independent community groups to
the Independent Review Team, May – August 2017.
64
The shakedowns are not limited to the C-Building, but are conducted facility-wide. Since they are a routine
security practice, it is likely that they continue to occur. The issue described to the Independent Review Team, by
inmates, is not that the shake downs occur, but how the CERT members are dressed while conducting them.
65
Independent Review Team focus group with JTVCC inmates, May 4, 2017; Independent Review Team interview
with JTVCC staff member, July 17-21, 2017; ACLU email to Independent Review Team, received August 7, 2017,
reviewed August 2017.
66
While it is possible that some of these claims are exaggerated or fabricated, the Independent Review Team
heard these allegations frequently enough—and they were corroborated by some staff frequently enough—to
believe there may be some validity to the complaints.
67
Independent Review Team focus group with JTVCC inmates, May 4, 2017.
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identifies characteristics and conditions most likely to contribute to an offender returning to
prison after release. The four major factors are: 1) a history of anti-social behavior, 2) anti-social
personality traits, 3) anti-social peers, and, 4) anti-social values.68 When correctional staff
harass, antagonize, or otherwise intimidate offenders, they model two of those four major
factors: serving as anti-social peers and modeling anti-social values. For inmates approaching
release, this simply reinforces a belief that those are appropriate behaviors.
The JTVCC administrators also slowly decreased the amount of vocational, educational and
psycho-therapeutic programs and job opportunities that provide valuable benefits for
inmates.69 Rehabilitation of inmates into law-abiding citizens is frequently viewed as the
ultimate goal of incarceration.70 Many effective treatment interventions targeting criminal
behavior focus on teaching offenders new ways of thinking and problem solving, providing
these individuals marketable educations and job skills, and helping them overcome addictions.
The decrease in programs and job opportunities negatively impacted inmates housed in the CBuilding prior to the incident, and if not addressed, will have a similar impact on inmates
incarcerated in other buildings at the JTVCC.
Some staff believed the decrease in programming was a direct result of budget cuts, while
others attributed it to the previous warden’s vision that did not include rehabilitation of
offenders.71 The previous administration at the JTVCC replaced rehabilitation with punishment.
Leadership problems existed at all levels of the JTVCC
The Independent Review Team heard of a number of serious leadership problems that existed
within the C-Building, and the JTVCC more broadly, prior to the incident that began on February
1, 2017. These ranged from dysfunctional communication practices to verbal abuse and hostile
management.
“No matter what you do, you are faced with negativity.”72
“All feedback is negative.”73

68

Shelley Johnson Listwan et al., “The Pains of Imprisonment Revisited: The Impact of Strain on Inmate
Recidivism,” Justice Quarterly 30, no. 1 (2013): 144-168; Craig Haney, “The Psychological Impact of Incarceration:
Implications for Post-Prison Adjustment,” in Prisoners Once Removed: The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on
Children, Families, and Communities, ed. Jeremy Travis and Michelle Waul (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 2003),
33-66; Shadd Maruna, “Reentry as a rite of passage,” Punishment & Society 13, no. 1 (2011): 3-28.
69
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members, July 20, 2017.
70
Bruce Bayley, “Why we Incarcerate: Rehabilitation,” CorrectionsOne, July 16, 2012,
https://www.correctionsone.com/jail-management/articles/5826786-Why-we-incarcerate-Rehabilitation/.
71
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members, July 20, 2017.
70
Independent Review Team focus group with JTVCC line staff, May 1-5, 2017.
73
Ibid.
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The Independent Review Team heard frequent complaints regarding favoritism in personnel
actions related to both hiring and promotional decisions. While it is not unusual to hear these
complaints, especially in a facility where there is turmoil, the Team also heard complaints in
some detail that were more disturbing. During Interviews, the Independent Review Team was
told that correctional personnel who had been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI)
and who had protection from abuse (PFA) orders filed against them were allowed to remain on
the job.74 In many states, correctional officers in these circumstances are not allowed to remain
on active duty because they are required to have unrestricted drivers’ licenses and be able to
carry firearms and such convictions and orders would prevent them from being able to meet
those requirements. The most extreme example provided was that a JTVCC supervisor would
work his shift Monday through Friday, and serve a sentence at another Delaware DOC facility
on the weekends as a result of a DUI conviction.75
The Independent Review Team was also able to review an email memo issued by a JTVCC
administrator76 regarding the implementation of the Community Legal Aid Society,
Incorporated (CLASI) consent agreement.77 Some JTVCC staff members believed that the
instructions contained in the memo (see Figure 2 on page 17) put staff at risk and restricted
their ability to effectively do their job; other JTVCC employees did not share this opinion.78 In
fact, the Independent Review Team interviewed several staff members who were confident
that the CLASI agreement could be successfully implemented at the JTVCC, especially since it
had been successfully implemented at other Delaware facilities.79
As previously mentioned in Chapter 2, leadership issues existed at all levels of the JVTCC, and a
significant disconnect and lack of trust between first-line supervisors and their superiors was
noted. The failure to remove inmates from the C-Building based on the intelligence information
developed following the January 15, 2017 incident, demonstrated the breakdown in security
that developed, in part, from the lack of trust among supervisory personnel.80

74

Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC staff members, July 17-21, 2017; Independent Review Team
phone conversation with DOC human resources representative, August 3, 2017. The Independent Review Team
was not provided documentation to substantiate these allegations and was unable to confirm them with court
documentation. The Delaware DOC Policy 9.6 states that employees may be “subject to disciplinary action” for
committing a crime, but does not provide any specific punishments.
75
Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC staff member, July 20, 2017. If this example is accurate, it would
indicate an inappropriate tolerance for misconduct and illegal behavior among employees. It may also raise
potential legal issues regarding individuals currently incarcerated at the JTVCC.
76
Email from JTVCC warden to all correctional staff, November 16, 2016 (see note 53).
77
Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (CLASI) v. Robert M. Coupe is the official civil action; however, may American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorneys helps assist in the litigation so many refer to the agreement as the ACLU
agreement.
78
The impression of the Independent Review Team is that the memo was a passive aggressive attempt to force the
implementation of the CLASI agreement to fail.
79
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members, July 20, 2017.
80
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff, July 20, 2017.
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A significant disconnect between JTVCC administrators and line-level staff exists, impacting
daily operations
The Independent Review Team identified a significant disconnect between JTVCC
administrators, supervisors, staff, and inmates. Some JTVCC staff continue to believe that
nothing will change at the JTVCC, despite the changes already being implemented. Supervisors
do not believe that they are supported by upper management at the JTVCC or the DOC, and
fear disciplinary action if they do something out of the norm or without prior approval.
Meanwhile, the JTVCC administrators and senior management believe they are extremely
supportive of their supervisors and have given supervisors the authority to do what is in the
best interest of the safety and security of the facility. The executives advised the Independent
Review Team that they believe in their supervisors, and expect them to do what is necessary to
keep the facility operating safely. In the end, the lack of direction at the JTVCC frustrated staff
and prisoners alike and tensions grew. Neither the JTVCC administrators, nor DOC executives,
seemed to appreciate how the administrative and operational milieu at the JTVCC affected the
critical formal and informal control systems that defined safety and security in the C-Building
and the prison.

Actions taken by the State since February 2017
The DOC Commissioner’s Directives on Leadership and Concepts of Interactive Leadership were
shared with the Independent Review Team.81 These are good and necessary first steps to
rebuilding morale at the JTVCC. They are initial steps to make employees feel more appreciated
and more positive about their relationship with JTVCC and DOC leaders. Included is the idea
that Delaware DOC executives should conduct more frequent visits to all DOC facilities to help
build staff morale and keep the executives aware of what is going on in all the facilities
statewide.
Additionally, in the Department of Correction 2017 Strategic Plan: 90 Day Deliverables two of
the key objectives specifically related to leadership: “Develop Leadership Development
Program to prepare staff for leadership positions and promotion and to create a succession
plan,” and, “Ingrain new leadership concept of ‘Interactive Leadership’ (aka Management by
Walking Around) among all staff to improve morale and address cultural issues.

81

DOC Commissioner’s Directives on Leadership and Concepts of Interactive Leadership, provided by DOC to
Independent Review Team, August 2017, reviewed by Independent Review Team August 2017.
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Recommendations
New Recommendations:
1. Prioritize programs and strategies that facilitate a more positive culture amongst JTVCC
staff and between JTVCC staff and inmates. For example, create a system for recognizing
and rewarding staff for engaging in positive, constructive and effective correctional
practices. The new warden mentioned a “coin recognition” program he learned in the
military and began employing at the JTVCC, in which a coin was given to employees who
demonstrated positive practices. Publicizing positive practices shown by employees can also
reinforce employee behavior that is desired.
2. Review and rewrite job descriptions and promotional standards to reflect the skills and
knowledge required to enhance staff behavior and facility culture. Job descriptions and
promotional standards are ideal places to promote obtaining the skills and knowledge that
can enhance staff behavior and build a more positive culture. As promising practices evolve
in corrections, so too should job descriptions and promotional standards.82
3. JTVCC administrators should discontinue the practice of policy revision/implementation by
e-mail or verbal communication. Corrections is, by necessity, a highly-structured and ruledriven endeavor. When policy changes are made and communicated through nonstandardized processes they are subject to inconsistent interpretation and implementation.
When the staff doesn’t know whether to follow the official policies, a memo, an e-mail or a
verbal order – confusion arises and security is eroded. JTVCC administrators should release
updated policies and procedures through a standardized process that includes verbal
communication—superiors informing correctional officers during muster83—and written
communication—correctional officers receiving a copy of the updated policy or procedure.
Additionally, all affected staff should be required to sign a document indicating that they
have received, read, and understood changed to policies and procedures and that they will
be held accountable for following and correctly applying the new policy or procedure.
4. The DOC Commissioner should review the practices of masked mass shakedowns by CERT.
During interviews, the Independent Review Team heard that CERT members were
conducting shakedowns that appeared to be intended to intimidate inmates. The use of
masks to purposefully prevent identification of CERT members and their behaviors of
intentionally or unintentionally destroying inmates’ property contributes to problems in the
82

A cautionary note regarding this recommendation: Some JTVCC staff members believe that job descriptions and
minimum qualifications were frequently rewritten to ensure that a certain person or persons were selected for a
given position. Any changes to job descriptions, minimum qualifications, promotional standards, or other jobrelated items should be discussed prior to the changes being made.
83
Muster—also known as roll call—is a quick assembly prior to shift that allows the supervisory staff to pass on
pertinent information to the line staff and provides line staff the opportunity to engage and ask questions to the
supervisory staff. Post assignments are also usually given out at this time and uniform inspections completed.
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correctional facilities. To ensure that mass shakedowns are conducted in an appropriate
manner, CERT members should be required to wear some form of identification—name tag,
badge number, or numbered helmet.
5. The DOC Commissioner should assert the primacy of the central office over the facilities.
Historically, the Delaware DOC facilities have been led by individual wardens, rather than
guided by the central administration, leading to the perception that each warden is “doing
their own thing.” To achieve consistency, there must be a clear vision and direction for all
DOC facilities and it must be led by the DOC Commissioner. The wardens and administration
executives in each of the facilities must then demonstrate their commitment to the same
vision and direction. Every facility and unit within the DOC affects how the department
performs its mission. All agency leaders and staff should be department-focused, not only
facility and/or unit-oriented. All staff members should be expected and held accountable for
implementing and ensuring the success of the Department's goals. To address this
challenge, the Commissioner and his executive staff should hold regular meetings with
frontline managers (wardens and certain other supervisors). At these meetings, wardens
should describe the conditions at their respective facilities, explain variances in
performance indicators, and gain guidance on strategies to solve specific problems. Also
participating in these interactive problem-solving meetings should be civilian and uniformed
administrators who can provide their expertise, perspective and support to the leadership
and operations of the department.
6. Evidence-based programs and trainings should be prioritized for all levels of leadership at
the JTVCC. While the DOC Commissioner’s Directives on Leadership and Concepts of
Interactive Leadership are good and necessary first steps to rebuilding morale, they do not
address the issues of what leaders want employees to do or where leaders want to take the
JTVCC and the DOC with the help, cooperation and support of the staff. Merely creating
online training components and courses regarding leadership do not provide opportunities
for trainees to effectively demonstrate that they can apply the principles learned in real
scenarios. Training should provide guidance on strategies that will move the organization
toward DOC mission, goals and objectives. It should communicate strategies based on
proven science, and should provide opportunities for practical application of those
strategies by staff. Leadership training should not only focus on safety and security as it
pertains to the supervisory staff, but the understanding of how important rehabilitation of
offenders is to the overall mission of DOC.
Recommendations from the preliminary report:
1. The DOC Commissioner should develop a detailed strategic plan and implementation process
for the Delaware DOC that not only explains what is to be done, but also how it is to be done
(in considerable detail so that each staff member can see where they fit), how it will be
measured, and why it is important to embark on this effort.

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2. DOC should hold a one-day conference or similar event to discuss the future of corrections in
Delaware. The conference should be designed to develop consensus among policymakers
and elected officials regarding DOC priorities, what they want DOC to do, how they want to
see it accomplished and ways that they will each support the effort and goals. The event is
an opportunity both to educate policy makers and elected officials on the needs of the DOC
as well as for DOC executives to garner support for DOC mission and goals.
3. The DOC should use the strategic plan and implementation process to inform policies,
procedures, and operations; security; budgeting; executive, mid-level and staff training;
infrastructure, inmate programing, and services.
4. DOC executive leadership should endeavor to build and maintain strong relationships with
correctional officers and administrative personnel throughout the agency.

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Chapter 4. Staffing, Compensation, and Safety and Wellness
Overview
The Independent Review Team’s preliminary review of staffing-related issues at the James T.
Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC) confirmed widespread concerns that the JTVCC is critically
understaffed, and as a result, correctional officers are physically and mentally exhausted. This
exhaustion actively contributes to officer burnout and turnover, and is in turn, further straining
already critically low staffing levels. The low staffing levels and staff burnout also directly
contributed to the negative culture documented in the previous chapter. In addition, the high
rate of turnover at the JTVCC is one of the most concerning observations documented by the
Independent Review Team, particularly in light of a vast body of scientific literature on the
health and safety risks of burnout. Physical and mental exhaustion not only negatively impact
correctional officer (CO) safety and wellness, but also pose significant security risks to
individuals and the institution.

Observations
The JTVCC struggled with critically low staffing levels which were exacerbated by excessive
overtime and high rates of turnover
"What is the point in asking for more positions when you can't keep the ones you have
filled?"84
"A breathing body is better than no body at all.”85
The current union-negotiated standard work week for correctional staff at the JTVCC is 40
hours per week, and is broken down into five consecutive days of eight-hour shifts followed by
two consecutive days off, during each seven-day period.86 The three shifts are divided into a
morning shift—which runs from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.—an evening shift—which runs from
4:00 p.m. to midnight—and an overnight shift—from midnight to 8:00 a.m.
On top of the standard work week, the union-negotiated overtime policy indicates that the
State of Delaware will determine overtime availability, with the union participating to ensure a
84

Statement made in regards to Governor Carney’s announcement on March 13, 2017, that the FY 2018 budget
plan would add 50 correctional officers at JTVCC; Independent Review Team interview with a representative of the
Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, May 1, 2017.
85
Ibid.
86
“Hours of Work and Work Schedules,” in The State of Delaware and Department of Correction State Merit
Bargaining Unit 10 Agreement (includes, Correctional Officers Association of Delaware (COAD), and the American
Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, Council 81, Locals 247, 3384 and 2004, effective
July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2018), reviewed by the Independent Review Team, May – August 2017.
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fair distribution of overtime. If there is a need for overtime within four hours, it is first offered
to employees who are on duty at the time and have signed a voluntary overtime list. However,
the State can also designate mandatory overtime—or “freeze” an employee—if the union
distribution of overtime “fails to meet operational or security needs.”87
Correctional officers at the JTVCC reported routinely working double shifts—a total of 16
consecutive hours—and being “frozen” upwards of two to five times per week. This resulted in
some correctional officers working a total of up to 80 hours of overtime, equaling their
standard 80 hours per pay period.88 In some cases, the overtime requirements are so excessive
that correctional officers reported routinely missing out on important family events due to
being “frozen” at the end of their shift or being denied vacation time even when a request is
put in “six months in advance.” While the excessive amount of mandatory and forced overtime
is not necessarily at odds with the union-negotiated overtime policy, the continued reliance on
excessive overtime at the JTVCC is needed to compensate for the staffing shortages caused by
the number of vacant positions and high rates of turnover at the facility.
The reliance on overtime to compensate for critically low staffing levels is a risky practice. The
recent Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (CLASI) lawsuit89 has added an additional layer of
concern and confusion to this already critical staffing situation. The correctional officers at the
JTVCC are deeply concerned over the staffing implications of the CLASI lawsuit, yet, the JTVCC
administrators does not believe that implementing the CLASI recommendations will require
additional staff. Due to this combination of factors, the overall quality of the workforce has
progressively declined at the JTVCC; complacency and acceptance of marginal performance
have become the norm; and turnover rates are high.
High rates of turnover are concerning in any profession, particularly in light of a vast body of
scientific literature on the health and safety risks of occupational stressors such as long work
hours, rotating shifts and overtime for which low self-reported job satisfaction and
organizational commitment, high burnout, and turnover intention are linked outcomes.90
87

“Hours of Work and Work Schedules,” in The State of Delaware and Department of Correction State Merit
Bargaining Unit 10 Agreement (includes, Correctional Officers Association of Delaware (COAD), and the American
Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, Council 81, Locals 247, 3384 and 2004, effective
July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2018), reviewed by the Independent Review Team, May 2017.
88
Independent Review Team interview with a representative of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware,
May 1, 2017.
89
The CLASI lawsuit, filed by the Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. of Delaware (CLASI) argues that the treatment
of inmates with mental illness within Delaware DOC facilities, and specifically within JTVCC, is in violation of both
the U.S. constitution and the constitution of the State of Delaware. A settlement reached in September 2016
resulted in a number of recommendations for implementation by JTVCC administrators to improve conditions for
inmates with mental illness currently housed in secure/restrictive housing units.
90
See for example, C. Finney et al., “Organizational stressors associated with job stress and burnout in correctional
officers: a systematic review,” BMC Public Health 13, no. 82 (2013); John R. Hepburn and Paul E. Knepper,
“Correctional officers as human service workers: The effect on job satisfaction,” Justice Quarterly 10, no. 2
(1993):315-337; Eric G. Lambert et al., “The impact of distributive and procedural justice on correctional staff job
stress, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment,” Journal of Criminal Justice 35, no. 6 (2007): 644-656; Eric
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Indeed, “employee turnover can have devastating effects on correctional facilities” not only in
terms of recruiting and training costs, but also because “[turnover] may also directly affect the
security of the institution as well as the safety of both staff and inmates.”91 This is especially
apparent at the JTVCC.
Low salaries and limited upward mobility have contributed to reliance on overtime and high
rates of turnover at the JTVCC
“Inferior salary, no career ladder, no reason to promote.”92
In addition to excessive overtime, the low starting salary and lack of substantial pay increases,
and minimal promotional opportunities, have contributed to high rates of officer turnover. For
example, correctional officers with 20 years of service in the DOC were paid less than $10,000
over their starting salary, which has remained consistent across fiscal years (see Figure 3
below):
Figure 3: Delaware DOC Pay Scale, Correctional Officer93

FY 2016
FY 2017
FY 2018

0-2 years
$31,586.00
$32,059.79
$32,540.69

2-5 years
$32,059.79
$32,540.69
$33,028.80

5-10 years
$33,021.58
$33,516.91
$34,019.66

10-15 years
$34,672.66
$35,192.75
$35,720.64

15-20 years
$37,099.75
$37,656.25
$38,221.09

20+ years
$40,438.73
$41,045.31
$41,660.99

According to the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware (COAD), the low salary for
Delaware DOC correctional officers is a primary source of grievance and has contributed to a,
“16-year average, 57 percent turnover rate.”94 In a review of employees that left the JTVCC
between January 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, 62 out of 75 employees voluntarily resigned.95
Lambert and Eugene A. Paoline, “Take this job and shove it: An exploratory study of turnover intent among jail
staff,” Journal of Criminal Justice 38, no. 2 (2010): 139-148; C. Obidoa et al., “Depression and work family conflict
among corrections officers,” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 53, no. 11 (2011); Ikwukananne
I. Udechukwu, “Correctional Officer Turnover: Of Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy and Herzberg’s Motivation Theory,”
Public Personnel Management 38, no. 2 (2009): 69-82.
91
Eric Lambert and Nancy Hogan, “The Importance of Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment in Shaping
Turnover Intent,” Criminal Justice Review 34, no. 1 (2008): 96-118.
92
Independent Review Team Interview with a representative of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware,
May 1, 2017.
93
“Attachments A/B/C: Unit 10, Correctional Officer Annual Base Salaries, FY 2016” in The State of Delaware and
Department of Correction State Merit Bargaining Unit 10 Agreement (includes, Correctional Officers Association of
Delaware (COAD), and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, Council 81,
Locals 247, 3384 and 2004, effective July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2018), reviewed by the Independent Review Team,
May – August 2017.
94
Independent Review Team interview with a representative of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware,
May 1, 2017.
95
“List of Employees Terminated from JTVCC, CY 2016 Through March 31, 2017,” provided by DOC to Independent
Review Team, May 2017, reviewed by Independent Review Team May – August 2017.
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For many of the correctional officers who remain, they have come to rely heavily on overtime
as a supplement to their low salaries. In fact, the State of Delaware, Office of Auditor Accounts,
found that in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 and part of FY 2017, nearly $39 million of overtimes costs
were paid by the Delaware Department of Correction (DOC), “with JTVCC incurring the highest
cost of all DOC divisions.”96 During the FY 2017 period that was reviewed, the average overtime
cost was $838,839 per pay period.97 The overtime paid to all DOC employees during FY 2016
and 2017 amounted to nearly 38 percent of the total overtime paid to all State employees.98
In addition to the lack of competitive salaries, the limited opportunities for promotion are a
significant source of grievance for correctional officers at the JTVCC. As a result of limited
upward mobility, some officers take advantage of external opportunities and leave the JTVCC to
join municipal police departments because of better pay and status.99
The low salary and limited opportunities for upward mobility has not only impacted the
retention of correctional officers, but has also impacted the ability to recruit new officers,
further contributing to staffing shortages. During an interview, the Independent Review Team
was told that cadet classes are about half the size they were before the incident.100
Certain timekeeping practices at the JTVCC are problematic
Upon entering and exiting the facility, Delaware DOC employees assigned to JTVCC are required
to clock-in and clock-out.101 However, in instances where staff members clock-in before their
shift or clock-out late, changes are made by JTVCC timekeepers to reflect the employees as
arriving at the exact scheduled start and leaving at the exact scheduled end of their shifts. For
example, if an employee arrives early, to ensure that they allot enough time to walk to their
post at a far end of the JTVCC compound, that time is modified and therefore uncompensated.
Additionally, because the “muster”102 held before each shift is voluntary, employees who clockin early to attend have their clock-in time adjusted to indicate that they arrived at the
scheduled beginning of their shift. Likewise, if an employee is waiting until their post is properly
relieved and therefore leaves after their scheduled shift ends, their clock-out is modified to
reflect that they clocked-out on time. While many of the correctional officers interviewed by
the Independent Review Team indicated that these timekeeping modifications are a common
practice at the JTVCC, they also noted that the changes are not communicated to them prior to
96

Thomas Wagner, Jr., “Department of Correction Overtime Analysis,” Office of Auditor of Accounts, State of
Delaware, issued May 22, 2017, http://auditor.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2017/05/Departmentof-Correction-Overtime-Analysis-Inspection-1.pdf.
97
Ibid.
98
Ibid.
99
Independent Review Team interview with a representative of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware,
May 1, 2017.
100
Ibid.
101
Independent Review Team Interviews with JTVCC line staff and supervisors, July 17-21, 2017.
102
See note 81 for definition.
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being made. Therefore, these modifications do not appear to follow state and federal labor
laws and standards and are potentially illegal.
Correctional staff at the JTVCC feel undervalued and dehumanized
Observations and interviews by the Independent Review Team strongly suggest that JTVCC staff
are burned out as a result of long-term untreated stress, as well as emotional, cognitive, and
physical exhaustion, stemming in large part from the excessive overtime that is being worked.
This level of work intrusion into the correctional officers’ personal lives has eliminated any
sense of work-life balance with significant impacts on their individual, and most probably, their
family’s mental health and wellness. While issues of work-life balance and the stress it produces
are seemingly inherent to the corrections profession, the Independent Review Team observed
that these issues are being experienced to an extreme degree at the JTVCC.103 In fact, there is
ample evidence of burnout throughout the rank-and-file, especially since the incident that
began on February 1, 2017. A number of officers who used to take overtime assignments have
either stopped volunteering for overtime or have resigned altogether.104
The excessive amounts of overtime worked by JTVCC correctional officers also impacts their
performance and ability to function in a safe and effective manner. This very sentiment was
discussed during an Independent Review Team focus group with JTVCC correction officers.
Correction officers were described as being so exhausted that it was “chipping away at security
and behavior,” such that “the unacceptable becomes acceptable.”105 The physical and mental
health of correctional officers is critical to the safety of themselves, their families, other
officers, inmates, and the overall community. Especially in a facility facing other significant
challenges, an officer whose capabilities, judgment, and behavior are adversely affected by
poor physical or psychological health may be exacerbated and add to the cycle that permeates
the JTVCC.
Prison S.M.A.R.T.:
Prison S.M.A.R.T. is a program based on a breathing technique called “Sudarshan Kriya,”
which, “teaches advanced breathing practices that create dynamic cleansing effects on
the body and the mind,” and participants, “learn how to use their breath to reduce the
accumulated effects of stress and negative emotions.” It also teaches practical life skills
that enable participants to better reduce and manage stress in their lives and handle
future conflict and stressful situations successfully. Prison S.M.A.R.T. has been
implemented in over 45 countries in the past 24 years.
For more information about the Prison S.M.A.R.T. program, visit: http://www.prisonsmart.org/.
103

Finney et al., “Organizational stressors associated with job stress and burnout in correctional officers: a
systematic review” (see note 90).
104
Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC staff member, May 19, 2017.
105
Independent Review Team Interview with a representative of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware,
May 1, 2017.
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It is also likely that some members of the staff are suffering from mental health issues—
including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—as a result of the
incident that began on February 1, 2017. Among the well-documented psychological outcomes
of high and chronic stress are depression106 and PTSD.107 Suicide is an outcome that has also
been linked to depression and adverse life events.108 Additionally, research on absenteeism
indicates that correctional officers use sick leave as a way of coping with the types of
occupational stress they deal with on a regular basis.109 Delaware DOC officials reported that
outreach to correctional staff in the aftermath of the incident that began on February 1, 2017
regarding behavioral health consisted of arrangements for members of the Delaware
Psychological Association to provide free short-term counseling to DOC staff and their families,
as well as emails to staff directing them to external resources and possible piloting of the Prison
Stress Management and Rehabilitation Training (Prison S.M.A.R.T.) peer-to-peer program to
work with staff directly involved in the incident.110
Additionally, because JTVCC staff feel undervalued, in the aftermath of the incident that began
on February 1, 2017, a number of JTVCC employees planned to engage in a “sick out.”111 Along
with the high rate of turnover, this combination of factors only exacerbates the already critical
staffing issues at the JTVCC.

Actions taken by the State since February 2017
In April 2017, seven Delaware DOC staff members completed a critical incident stress
management (CISM) course at the Wilmington Police Department and obtained certification to
run CISM debriefs after a critical incident. The DOC Employee Development Center, which
administers CISM debriefs, is working to standardize the administration of CISM debriefs going
forward.112 Additionally, “more than 300 hours (stemming from 50 behavioral support centers)
were devoted to behavioral health support through various avenues including therapy dogs”
and, “arrangements were made for individual and group practices from members of the
Delaware Psychological Association to provide free short term crisis counseling to DOC staff and
106

S. J. Lupien et al., “Effects of stress throughout the lifespan on the brain, behaviour and cognition,” Nature
Reviews Neuroscience 10, no. 6 (2009): 434-445; E. M. Maloney et al., “Chronic fatigue syndrome and high
allostatic load: results from a population-based case-control study in Georgia,” Psychosomatic Medicine 71, no. 5
(2009): 549-556.
107
S. J. Lupien et al., “Effects of stress throughout the lifespan on the brain, behaviour and cognition”; D. A. Glover
et al., “Allostatic load in women with and without PTSD symptoms,” Psychiatry 69, no. 3 (2006): 191-203.
108
John Mann, “The neurobiology of suicide,” Nature Medicine 4, no. 1 (1998): 25-30.
109
Nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work for state government and local
government workers, 2008 & 2009, (Washington, DC: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010).
110
For more information about the Prison S.M.A.R.T. program, visit: http://www.prisonsmart.org/.
111
Amy Cherry, “E-mail: DOC commissioner asks correctional officers not to participate in coordinated sick calls,
WDEL, April 17, 2017, http://www.wdel.com/news/e-mail-doc-commissioner-asks-correctional-officers-not-toparticipate/article_df1067d2-23a6-11e7-8a94-ef7df3609eaf.html.
112
DOC Preliminary Progress Report (see note 14).
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their families,” in response to the incident that began on February 1, 2017.113 Behavioral health
related outreach to correctional staff after the incident also consisted of: emails to staff with
information on behavioral health resources, emails with information on children’s trauma
response, and an informational PowerPoint presentation on suicide risk and response also
emailed to staff.114 The DOC further reported that it is in the early stage of bringing in Prison
S.M.A.R.T. to work with staff directly involved in the incident, and pending the success of a pilot
trial, rolling it out more broadly.
In June 2017, Governor Carney and the State of Delaware raised salaries for Delaware DOC
corrections personnel. On June 20th Governor Carney and the Correctional Officers Association
of Delaware (COAD) announced a two-year agreement to raise the annual starting salary to
$40,000 in FY 2018, and to $43,000 in FY 2019, described by the COAD President as, “a great
first step in the right direction.”115 In addition to the increases in starting salaries, the
agreement also includes the creation of a new labor management committee to focus on
studying “ways to help recruit and retain officers, and decrease the use of mandatory overtime
in Delaware’s prisons.”116
In July 2017, Governor Carney signed the fiscal year 2018 budget plan allocating $16 million to
fund pay increases for correctional officers,117 and as of July 1, 2017, the State of Delaware
Correctional Officer recruitment posting reflects a $40,000 salary.118
Also in July 2017, the DOC Preliminary Progress Report (Provided in Response to the JTVCC
Independent Review Preliminary Report) was released with specific responses regarding staffing
and resources. According to the report, “JTVCC is next in line for the Delaware Staffing Analysis
(DSAT) staffing review process [already begun at other DOC facilities]. Preliminary JTVCC
staffing needs data will be submitted as part of the FY 19 budget process. This staffing analysis
is scheduled to begin on July 10, 2017.”119 In the meantime, Governor Carney’s budget proposal
included authorization for 50 additional correctional officer positions at the JTVCC.120 The

113

Ibid.
Ibid.
115
“Governor Carney, COAD Announce Agreement to Raise Correctional Officer Pay,” State of Delaware, June 20,
2017, http://news.delaware.gov/2017/06/20/48390/.
116
Ibid.
117
“Governor Carney Signs Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Plan, Capping General Assembly Session,” State of Delaware,
July 3, 2017, http://news.delaware.gov/2017/07/03/governor-carney-signs-fiscal-year-2018-budget-plan-cappinggeneral-assembly-session/.
118
“Correctional Officer Recruitment Announcement #070117-MBDB01-380400,” State of Delaware, reviewed by
Independent Review Team, August 2017.
119
DOC Preliminary Progress Report (see note 15). Per the Delaware DOC, the DSAT team is “comprised of a group
of DOC personnel, who received training from the National Institute of Correction (NIC) on conducting a thorough
staffing analysis.”
120
“Investing in the Department of Correction,” State of Delaware, uploaded June 24, 2017,
http://governor.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/06/Investing-in-the-Department-of-CorrectionJune-6-2017.pdf.
114

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report also indicated that a 2015 course entitled “From Correctional Fatigue to Fulfillment”121 is
now, “offered as part of Correctional Employee Initial Training (CEIT). Staff hired prior to the
course being added to CEIT can register for the course as refresher training.”122 Additionally,
the DOC has issued a request for proposals for chaplaincy services for DOC personnel.

Recommendations
New Recommendations:
1. To the extent possible, reduce reliance on mandatory overtime and limit the number of
overtime hours per week for employees at the JTVCC. While the DSAT staffing study is
being conducted, it was made clear to the Independent Review Team that JTVCC
administrators relied on “freezing” employees and using overtime to address staffing
shortages, leading to burnout and turnover. Limiting the reliance on mandatory overtime
and capping the number of overtime hours has the potential to create a positive work-life
balance and reduce turnover. Scientific research is clear that fatigue impacts judgment,
tolerance for stress, and increases irritability and opportunity for error. It also makes the job
less attractive for new recruits and impacts the organization's ability to recruit and retain
quality employees.
2. JTVCC administrators should identify evidence-based programs and practices that address
officer safety and wellness in correctional facilities. JTVCC leadership should ensure that all
personnel involved in, or affected by, the incident that began on February 1, 2017—or any
incident—feel valued and are provided access to the physical and mental health resources
they need in order to perform their duties safely and effectively. JTVCC administrators
should create a role of mental health incident commander to oversee correctional officer
mental health and wellness. While sharing information about services is commendable,
many individuals need help accessing and navigating those services. Furthermore, it is not
unusual for post-traumatic stress to manifest itself several weeks or months after an event.
Follow-up could fall under the purview of a mental health incident commander.123
3. The JTVCC must evaluate its timekeeping practices to ensure they adhere to state and
federal labor laws. Upon entering and exiting the facility, JTVCC staff are required to clockin and clock-out. However, JTVCC timekeepers have significant leeway to modify
employees’ clock-in and clock-out times without communicating the changes to the
121

According to the report, the curriculum, “assists employees with identifying stressors, understanding the
impacts of correctional work on individuals and families, and identifying health coping strategies.”
122
DOC Preliminary Progress Report (see note 14).
123
Recommendation adapted from Frank Straub, Brett Cowell, Jennifer Zeunik and Ben Gorban, Managing the
Response to a Mobile Mass Shooting: A Critical Incident Review of the Kalamazoo, Michigan, Public Safety
Response to the February 20, 2016, Mass Shooting Incident (Washington, DC: Police Foundation, April 2017),
https://www.policefoundation.org/publication/managing-the-response-to-a-mobile-mass-shooting/.
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employees. Any changes to an employee’s time should be discussed with that employee
prior to being made and should also include the employee’s supervisor. Additionally, the
practice of timekeepers modifying clock-in and clock-out times should be evaluated and
changed to ensure adherence to state and federal labor laws and standards.
4. JTVCC administrators should compel participation in critical incident debriefings or postincident counseling not only for those directly involved but also for those not involved.
These debriefings and counseling sessions should include correctional officers and support
staff. Recognizing that resources are an issue, administration executives should consider
unit, team, or department-level debriefings to bring closure to the event. This may also
alleviate some of the significant turnover since the incident.
5. DOC and JTVCC administrators should mandate officer safety and wellness training for all
correctional officers on a regular basis. While it is commendable that the “From
Correctional Fatigue to Fulfillment” training is now part of Correctional Employee Initial
Training (CEIT), offering it as a refresher training for staff hired prior to the course being
added is insufficient. A mandatory training that focuses on key principles of officer safety
and wellness in correctional facilities, addressing stress and fatigue, and identifying when
and where to seek additional assistance is imperative.
Recommendations from the preliminary report:
1. Conduct a comprehensive staffing study to identify proper staffing levels at the JTVCC.
2. Update and implement a practical fatigue/stress policy that accounts for work-life balance.
3. Create a promotional career ladder with competitive salaries, and merit-based recognition.
4. Provide Critical Incident Counseling and Training in Stress Management and Reduction, such
as Mindfulness Training.

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Chapter 5. Policies, Procedures, and Practices
Overview
Well-written relevant, policy and procedure is the core of contemporary correctional
operations. All correctional agencies must establish well-defined and concise written directives
to inform and govern behavior and set clear expectations for correctional officers and inmates.
They also confirm that administration executives have performed their role, serve as the basis
for staff supervision and training, and mitigate liability if there is an incident or lawsuit.124
Especially in correctional facilities, the issues of administrative liability, accreditation standards,
case law, and the need to support professional behavior, make having clearly-defined and
strong written policies and procedures a necessity.125

Observations
Policies and procedures are inconsistently applied, if applied at all, at the JTVCC
The Independent Review Team was told during interviews, and directly observed, a facility
plagued by inconsistent application of policies and procedures, if they are applied at all. During
focus groups, JTVCC correctional officers mentioned that there are no accountability measures
in place to ensure that staff members read and understand policies and procedures and they
have no responsibility to effectively apply them. In fact, some JTVCC staff members indicated
that they have not read, nor do they regularly consult, the Delaware Department of Correction
(DOC) or JTVCC Policies and Procedures Manuals. Others indicated that they intentionally
deviate from policies or procedures that they feel restrict their ability to effectively do their job.
Meanwhile, other correctional officers indicated that they rarely deviate from the written
policies and procedures. This inconsistency was not only identified as a significant area of
concern by both staff and inmates, but undeniably contributed to the deterioration of a safe
and secure facility, and directly contributed to the incident that began on February 1, 2017.
For example, prior to the incident that began on February 1, 2017, an update to JTVCC Standard
Operating Procedure 4.2 was issued via email by a JTVCC administrator (see Figure 2 on page
17). Since the update was issued via email—and some correctional officers do not have access
to a computer during their shifts—some correctional officers were unaware that the update
had been issued and others only heard about it via word-of-mouth. Additionally, since some
correctional officers believed that the modification all but took away their ability to do their
jobs while maintaining the safety and security of the institution, they intentionally chose to
ignore it.126
124

“Correctional Policy and Procedure,” National Institute of Corrections, last accessed August 16, 2017,
https://nicic.gov/policy.
125
Ibid.
126
Independent Review Team Interviews with JTVCC line staff and supervisors, May 1-5, 2017.
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Well-written relevant, policy and procedure is the core of
contemporary correctional operations.

Additionally, while the JTVCC policy currently mandates that all supervisors must sign in and out
as they conduct security rounds on posts during their shift, because there is no accountability
for supervisors who do not sign in and out, few supervisors actually do sign in and out, and
even fewer actually conduct security rounds. Even when JTVCC administrators randomly
inspects the sign in sheets to check whether supervisors are doing their rounds and signing the
log sheets, there is no corrective action taken, nor reprimand levied against, supervisors who
have not done so.127
This is coupled with the fact that the policy on searching individuals and their belongings prior
to entering the compound is inconsistently applied. The Independent Review Team observed
staff members entering the facility with unsealed cups and bottles, containers that were not
clear, and brown paper bags; some were required to go through a metal detector or scanner,
while others were not. A similar lack of consistency was observed with officers removing their
utility belts to be searched, and not one officer removed their shoes to be inspected. As a result
of the inconsistent application of policies and procedures, supervisors conducting security
rounds on their shifts, and security checks of the JTVCC prior to entering the compound and
housing units, contraband is easily introduced into the JTVCC, impacting the overall safety and
security of the facility.
Post orders are implemented based on impulse or preference, if implemented at all, at the
JTVCC
Post orders are written procedures, requirements, guidelines, and tasks for conducting
operations at a specific post or station in a correctional facility.128 Post orders should be clear
and detailed, and should explain how to operate the post daily. They should be accessible on
every post for reference and review. For example, if a correctional officer is assigned to manage
a housing unit, post orders should detail time(s) for: meals, inmates to be out for recreation,
inmates to be able to take showers and use phones, mail hand out, inmates to be able to visit
with medical staff for non-emergency illnesses and injuries, and any other routine task
conducted daily. The post orders should also identify alternative recreation schedules and
locations, if outdoor recreation is canceled due to inclement weather. These orders provide
stability to the facility and should be operated consistently across all shifts, with necessary
exceptions for time-specific programs and opportunities. Recreation, program, and meal
schedules should also be posted in common areas of the facility so that inmates are aware of
the daily schedule.

127
128

Independent Review Team phone conversation with JTVCC executive, August 8, 2017.
“Correctional Policy and Procedure,” National Institute of Corrections.

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Much like the inconsistent application of policies and procedures at JTVCC, post orders are
implemented based on impulse or preference, if implemented at all, which also contributes to
an insecure facility. JTVCC staff also indicated to the Independent Review Team that post orders
are only available online. Therefore, if a computer is not accessible on the post, correctional
officers cannot review their post orders or print out schedules for the inmates, and therefore
run their post without necessarily complying with orders.129
The inconsistent application of post orders contributed to the introduction of contraband into
the C-Building prior to the incident that began on February 1, 2017. JTVCC staff indicated to the
Independent Review Team that the post orders on conducting shakedowns of two cells per
shift—to look for contraband—is inconsistently applied, or entirely ignored. 130 Some
correctional officers told the Independent Review Team that they frequently do not conduct
the required cell shakedowns because they know that the DOC Community Emergency
Response Team (CERT) will conduct them when they are called into the facility for mass
shakedowns.131 This was corroborated by an officer, who told the Independent Review Team
that, in some cases the JTVCC staff do not want to undertake some aspects of their job, instead
relying on CERT to do those tasks.132 However, because of the inconsistent application of post
orders, the C-Building was not protected from inmates possessing contraband. During the
incident that began on February 1, 2017, the inmates that took over the C-Building were in
possession of weapons, which are the most severe type of contraband. While it is unclear if the
weapons they possessed were homemade shanks or knives, it is clear that the inmates should
not have had access to them.
Policies, procedures, and post orders are not comprehensive at the JTVCC
To the knowledge of the Independent Review Team, based on interviews and reviews of DOC
documentation, the JTVCC did not have a clear policy, procedure, or post order detailing how to
operate housing tiers and entire housing buildings during the mass movement of inmates,
based on the staffing levels, layout of the tiers and the building as a whole, and security level
classifications of the inmates. Therefore, there was no document to provide direction to
correctional officers on how to safely move all of the inmates to and from recreation, to and
from meals, and any other instances where mass movement of inmates is necessary.
Additionally, no policy, procedure, or post order was in place to search all inmates prior to, and
at the conclusion of, any sort of mass movement. In many instances, in order to allow
correctional officers to effectively observe and manage mass movement—especially as inmates
are going to and from outdoor recreation—facilities allocate separate moving times for each
tier. However, because there was no policy, procedure, or post order to effectively and safely
oversee mass movement of the approximately 126 inmates in the C-Building as they left and
129

Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC officer, May 4-5. 2017.
Post Order Index, provided by DOC to Independent Review Team, May 2017, reviewed by Independent Review
Team May – August 2017.
131
Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC executive, July 19, 2017.
132
Ibid.
130

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returned from recreation, (even though C-Building was fully staffed when the incident began)
the staff lost control of C-Building and were vulnerable to being taken hostage.
JTVCC administrators and leadership frequently override policy and procedure decisions
The Independent Review Team had little success in finding a correctional officer or staff
member at the JTVCC who has much confidence in the inmate security level classification
system and other policies and processes related to inmate security classification. While
elements of the classification systems used in the JTVCC are successfully implemented at other
correctional facilities in Delaware, employees at the JTVCC suggested to the Independent
Review Team that they have little to no confidence in their success at the JTVCC, because JTVCC
administrators and leadership frequently override their decisions. Not only does this suggest
lack of confidence in the system’s accuracy, but also a lack of confidence in the staff doing the
classification.
Before housing an inmate, JTVCC staff must administer a series of inmate security and program
classification instruments to each inmate. In addition to the standard security classification
instrument, staff must administer a Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R)133 on most
inmates, a Risk-Needs-Responsivity (RNR)134 instrument, and a Prison Rape Elimination Act
(PREA) scoring instrument. The LSI-R is a well-recognized risk-needs instrument utilized by a
number of correctional systems, the RNR is designed to assess an inmate based on the risk they
present and what they need to respond positively to reduce the likelihood of recidivism upon
release, and the PREA instrument attempts to measure a person’s vulnerability to sexual
exploitation or their propensity to engage in predatory behavior within the correctional
setting.135 While all of these instruments were designed to serve a purpose, some JTVCC staff
feel there is little use for them at the JTVCC.
The Independent Review Team was told by some JTVCC staff that their belief that these
instruments have little to no purpose comes from the fact that JTVCC administrators and other
leaders frequently override the classifications made by the classification administrators. For
example, the Independent Review Team was told about four levels of review above the person
133

The Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) is an assessment tool used to identify an offender’s risk of
reoffending. The tool involves a survey of offender attributes and their situation, and may be used to make
supervision and treatment determinations. See D.A. Andrews and James Bonta, “LSI-R,” MHS Assessments,
accessed August 30, 2017, https://www.mhs.com/MHS-Publicsafety?prodname=lsi-r.
134
The Risk-Needs-Responsivity (RNR) instrument is a tool used for offender assessment and treatment. Upon
assessing an offender’s risk and needs, the tool matches offenders to services aimed at advancing rehabilitative
goals and reducing recidivistic crime. See “Risk-Needs-Responsivity (RNR) Simulation Tool,” Center for Advancing
Correctional Excellence, accessed August 30, 2017, https://www.gmuace.org/research_rnr.html.
135
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is a federal law passed by Congress in 2003. The law requires
corrections facilities to assess an inmate’s risk of being sexually abused by other inmates or sexually abusive
toward other inmates during an intake screening. See Ҥ 115.41 Screening for risk of victimization and
abusiveness,” National PREA Resource Center, accessed August 30, 2017, https://www.prearesourcecenter.org/ecitem/1189/11541-screening-for-risk-of-victimization-and-abusiveness.
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who completes the classification instrument: the Institutional Based Classification Committee
(IBCC), the treatment administrator, the Security Superintendent of Programs, and the warden.
Approximately 20 percent of the inmate security classification scores were overridden by JTVCC
administrators or one of the levels of review.136 Likewise, few programs are in place in which to
place the inmates based on the results of the LSI-R, and little consistency exists between
personnel who administer it, rendering the instrument is almost worthless. Likewise, the
Independent Review Team was told that scores from the PREA instrument were often
questioned based on completely erroneous assumptions and characteristics—such as a
person’s size (a large person could not be a likely victim)—that defeat the purpose of the
instrument.
Additionally, correctional officers and first-line supervisors feel that their recommendations to
move problematic inmates are overridden by JTVCC administrators and leadership. As detailed
in Chapter 2, following an incident in the C-Building on January 15, 2017, correctional officers
and first-line supervisors attempted to notify superiors of certain problematic inmates they
believed needed to be removed from the C-Building and indicated that they felt that if the issue
remained unaddressed, something else was going to happen in C-Building.137 However, the
correctional officers and some of the first-line supervisors believed that even if moves were
made, their superiors would override the decision to move them—much like they override
classification decisions—to avoid potential grievances and lawsuits.138

Actions taken by the State since February 2017
In July 2017, the DOC Preliminary Progress Report (Provided in Response to the JTVCC
Independent Review Preliminary Report) was released with specific responses regarding
policies, procedures, and practices. According to the report, progress is being made to break
the Code of Silence by implementing, “the DOC4U email address which staff can use to relay
questions, concerns, [and] suggestions directly to the Commissioner and his executive staff,” is
considering a proposal to, “assist in improving dialogue at the prison facilities, both between
staff-staff and between staff-inmates,” and has identified data and metrics that could inform
the creation of a performance management system to hold staff accountable for the
implementation of, and adherence to, policies and procedures.
Additionally, JTVCC staff—including the new warden—have acknowledged that a review of the
policies and procedures is ongoing.139 The Bureau of Prisons has also begun to update their

136

Independent Review Team Interview with JTVCC staff member, July 20, 2017.
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC line officers and supervisors, May 4, 5, and 19, and July 20,
2017.
138
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members, July 17-21, 2017.
139
Independent Review Team Interviews with JTVCC executives, July 19-20, 2017.
137

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policies, such as their policy on classification.140 One issue that was uncovered by the new
administration at the JTVCC is that all the policies and procedures are saved in files that cannot
be changed or modified, and thus, they all have to be re-written as they are being revised. It is
commendable that the new administration executives are taking this important step. The JTVCC
has also implemented “muster,” which is a quick assembly prior to shift that allows the
supervisory staff to pass on pertinent information to the line staff and provides line staff the
opportunity to engage and ask questions to the supervisory staff. Post assignments are also
usually given out at this time and uniform inspections completed.141

Recommendations
New Recommendations:
1. All JTVCC employees should be required to sign a document indicating that they have read
the DOC and the JTVCC Policies and Procedures identified by their superiors, as soon as
possible, and should also be required to sign a copy of each policy or procedure update.
The fact that some correctional officers admitted to the Independent Review Team that
they have not read the policies and procedures manuals is inexcusable and a significant
liability for the JTVCC and the DOC. JTVCC administrators should ensure that all current
employees have the most updated copy of both manuals. Administrators should determine
what policies, procedures and post orders are essential for each employee and require
them to be familiar with them, and have signed a document indicating that they have read
them and accept personal responsibility to be held accountable for understanding and
implementing them. Additionally, as procedural or policy modifications are made—and
approved by the warden and the Bureau Chief of Prisons—all employees should be given a
copy and required to sign it and return it to their immediate supervisor.
2. Officers assigned to a specific post should be required to sign off on the post orders upon
assuming the post. Having post orders for each post on each shift, and taking the time to
create standardized post orders for day-to-day prison operations and management is
necessary to provide the JTVCC staff with direction and guidance to operate a safe and
secure facility. Requiring officers assigned to a post to sign off on the post orders once
assuming their post is another way to move toward stability and accountability at the
JTVCC.
3. Policies, procedures, and post orders should continue to be reviewed, revised, and
updated annually. Mechanisms for temporary and emergency revisions should be put in
place immediately, but current policies reside in a single source by this method. An effective
140

Bureau of Prisons Policy 3.3: Classification, provided by DOC to Independent Review Team, August 14, 2017,
reviewed by Independent Review Team August 2017. The Independent Review Team is separately providing more
detail on options for further refinement of the BOP classification policy and related directives.
141
Currently, muster is being held 15 minutes prior to each shift and employees are not being compensated for
attending.
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system should also have a mechanism—usually a person or persons—who review facility
and field policies to ensure that they conform to the agency policies, and that post orders
conform as well. Policies, procedures, and post orders should also be reviewed, revised, and
updated to adapt to national correctional facility best practices. Delaware officials should
periodically review DOC policies of other states and systems to glean innovative and
evidence-based ideas in correction policy.
4. Identify, and implement, security level and program classification systems that are
effective and evidence-based. Staff should be included in identifying program and security
level classification instruments that are tailored to the JTVCC. Typically, each LSI-R takes
about an hour to administer and score, so the investment in staff time is enormous, for a
test, the reliability and validity of which is questioned by staff. Likewise, with no consistency
between personnel who administer these instruments, significant resources and valuable
information are currently being wasted. It must be understood that classification should
balance the need for protection, the needs of offenders, and the efficient and effective
operation of the correctional system.142
5. JTVCC administrators and leadership should provide documentation with specific
explanations for overriding security level classifications and other security-based decisions
made by staff. Sometimes, offender security levels need to be reclassified and offenders
housed accordingly. Housing units also need to be restructured to deal with both long and
short-term offenders. Staff involved in the administration of these various instruments, and
correctional officers who interact with inmates every day should be trusted to make
decisions—or at least provided an opportunity to provide input into—and movements in
the best interest of the facility, without concern that they will be overridden. If the system
is functioning properly, the myriad levels of review that currently exist at JTVCC are not
necessary.
6. Establish a Contraband Introduction Unit (CIU) at the JTVCC. Stricter guidelines should be
implemented at all entry points of the JTVCC in order to decrease the amount contraband
introduced into the facility. A CIU should be created to conduct regular screening and scans
of JTVCC visitors, employees and inmates. Likewise, the use of drug detection K-9s randomly
assigned to entrance posts, would be an additional method to deter individuals from
attempting to introduce contraband into the JTVCC. Not allowing employees to bring bags
into that facility that are not clear; to include brown paper bags or plastic bags, so the

142

“Public Correctional Policies,” American Correctional Association, January 25, 2017, downloaded August 16,
2017,
http://www.aca.org/ACA_Prod_IMIS/docs/GovernmentAffairs/ACA_PUBLIC_CORRECTIONAL_POLICIES_BOOK.pdf?
WebsiteKey=139f6b09-e150-4c56-9c66284b92f21e51&=404%3bhttp%3a%2f%2fwww.aca.org%3a80%2fACA_Prod_IMIS%2fACA_Member%2fdocs%2fGov
ernmentAffairs%2fACA_PUBLIC_CORRECTIONAL_POLICIES_BOOK.pdf; Bureau of Prisons Policy 3.3: Classification
(see note 140).
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gatehouse officers or CIT can see what is in a container. Anyone entering the facility should
remove their shoes to decrease contraband introduction.
Recommendations from the preliminary report:
1.

Review, revise and update policies, procedures and post orders annually.

2.

Conduct a review of the DOC Uniform Classification System and related practices at James
T. Vaughn Correctional Center.

3.

Implement Roll Calls to communicate more effectively with staff.

4.

Break the Code of Silence and bridge the gap between line officers and the corrections
administration.

5.

Immediately address the disconnect between JTVCC administrators and supervisors.

6.

DOC should research, identify and implement a performance management system that
holds all staff accountable for the implementation of and adherence to policies and
procedures, safety and security practices, as well as efficient and effective operations.

7.

Decrease the inmate population or encourage alternatives to incarceration programs.

8.

Research other Departments of Correction structures in the surrounding area.

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Chapter 6. Officer Training
Overview
Given the increasing costs associated recruiting and training new correctional officers and
decreasing budgets, the retention of correctional officers is a critical issue for all elected
officials, public policy makers, and correctional administrators.143 Correctional officers must
have adequate security skills. They must also have strong interpersonal skills and the capacity
to understand various cultural aspects of diverse offenders. They must also know how to deescalate volatile situations.144 This has not been the case at the James T. Vaughn Correctional
Center (JTVCC).

Observations
The current training curricula provided to the JTVCC staff is inadequate and ineffective
Training, as “a formal exchange of job-related knowledge and/or skills from someone having it
to someone needing it, where something is acquired and applied, resulting in something of
value for the agency,”145 is a critical component of criminal justice roles. The Independent
Review Team observed, and heard from numerous JTVCC staff members, that the training
currently provided falls short of meeting this definition.
Effective implementation of training requires effective instructors. A JTVCC staff member
alleged that not all training instructors are certified to instruct correctional training courses.146
The Independent Review Team was also told that if an officer is not able to have inmate contact
due to an assault or potential assaults in the institution, they are temporarily resigned to the
training department in Dover, until the officer is cleared to return to full duty at their
institution.147
Based on staff interviews and focus groups at the JTVCC, offender rehabilitation is not a priority
and as a result very little, if any, training is focused on providing staff with the skills to promote
143

Carl Nink, Correctional Officers: Strategies to Improve Retention (Centerville, UT: MTC Institute, 2010),
http://www.mtctrains.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Correctional-Officers-Strategies-to-ImproveRetention.pdf.
144
Let the American Correctional Association Be Your Correctional Training Partner, American Correctional
Association, April 30, 2014, https://www.aca.org/ACA_Prod_IMIS/docs/international/aca-international-coursecatalog-300414-final.pdf?WebsiteKey=139f6b09-e150-4c56-9c66284b92f21e51&=404%3bhttps%3a%2f%2fwww.aca.org%3a443%2faca_prod_imis%2faca_member%2fdocs%2finte
rnational%2faca-international-course-catalog-300414-final.pdf.
145
“Training Coordinators/Directors,” National Institute of Corrections (2005).
146
Independent Review Team phone interview with JTVCC staff member, August 17, 2017.
147
The Independent Review Team has not been able to substantiate or refute these allegations; however, it must
be noted that ineffective training will lead to ineffective implementation.
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offender rehabilitation. Some correctional officers do not seem to prioritize offender
rehabilitation either, stating that “money spent on programs [by the Delaware Office of
Management and Budget, the DOC, and the JTVCC] for inmates is money that we don’t get.”148
Incorporating the benefit of offender rehabilitation in training as well as how it is funded may
decrease animosity between staff and offenders who are interested in programming. It must
also be noted that some offenders expressed the requirement to complete rehabilitation and
programming as part of their sentence; if the JTVCC is ill-equipped to fulfill the needs of the
inmate population, they are doing a disservice to the community at large.
According to information gained from JTVCC staff during interviews, the required 40 hours of
annual in-service training provided to JTVCC staff is not beneficial to the officers, and they do
not retain much of the information. Most of the training is delivered online and many of the
JTVCC staff reported that it is of little value because they often do not have time to actually
watch the videos; they can be interrupted while watching the videos and taking the courses;
and the trainings normally consist of watching a presentation and taking a pass-or-fail test to
see if information is at least temporarily absorbed. This training style is not entirely conducive
to providing opportunities to actually implement the principles learned and demonstrate true
understanding. It also does not allow instructors to observe and provide immediate feedback in
areas for improvement or require repetition to ensure that the principles are truly absorbed.
Additionally, it was brought to the attention of the Independent Review Team that, in some
cases, one correctional officer would complete the training for all of the officers assigned to
that shift while the other officers performed their daily duties as assigned.149
The JTVCC administrators justified the heavy reliance on online training that is completed on
post because of the existing staff shortages at the facility. With the staff shortage, they
explained, they are unable to schedule time for officers to be away from their posts or away
from the JTVCC to complete in-person training, even if it is more effective and better for the
overall benefit of the facility.
The courses and the length of each course is pre-determined and they tend to focus on security
skills, including: conducting a count, shakedown procedures, riot control and report writing.150
At the JTVCC, some officers indicated that the training they received was not consistent with
Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) practices, rather they are instructed on the basics
and learn “how things are at [JTVCC]” from more senior staff once they get to the institution.
Since there is currently no ability for the individual facilities to tailor the annual in-service
training curriculum to the specific needs of their facility, the typical employee merely learns
how to be a “logistics specialist,” keeping track of the whereabouts of inmates in their assigned
area and ensuring that the inmates get to and from a variety of activities within the institution.
148

Independent Review Team focus group with JTVCC correctional officers, May 4, 2017.
Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC line officer, July 17, 2017.
150
Morris L. Thigpen, Virginia A. Hutchinson, and Kristin D. Keller, Interpersonal Communications in the
Correctional Setting: Instructor Guide (Washington, DC: National Institute of Corrections, 2004),
https://s3.amazonaws.com/static.nicic.gov/Library/020035.pdf.
149

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One extremely important area of training that is not conducted annually at the JTVCC is
Interpersonal Communication (IPC) Skills.151 Multiple JTVCC staff members told the
Independent Review Team that some officers lack the ability or skills to communicate
effectively with inmates and fellow officers.152 One officer bluntly stated, “we need to have IPC
refresher courses more often.”153 Some correctional training programs that contain IPC tend to
be conceptually-based rather than skills-based, however, so they tend to be unattractive to
correctional facility leaders, who are more concerned with ensuring that their staff have the
necessary skills.
Correctional officers must have adequate security skills. They must
also have strong interpersonal skills and the capacity to understand
various cultural aspects of diverse offenders. They must also know
how to de-escalate volatile situations.

Actions taken by the State since February 2017
In July 2017, the DOC Preliminary Progress Report (Provided in Response to the JTVCC
Independent Review Preliminary Report) was released with specific responses regarding
training. According to the report, the DOC, “continues to be actively engaged in a robust ACA
accreditation schedule for all of its facilities.”154 The report also indicated that, “DOC
implemented a Department-wide training plan which includes new employee orientation,
annual training, and refresher training.”155 The report indicates that Crisis Intervention Training
(CIT), “was added to DOC’s training catalogue in 2016. Leadership courses are currently
available to DOC staff via external opportunities such as the Office of Management and Budget
(OMB)’s training courses.”156 In fact, as of the date of publication of this final report, 94 DOC
officers have been sent to 40-hours of CIT training for correctional personnel.157
The DOC is also attempting to implement 16 hours of training that will be required to be “in the
seat” at the Employee Development Center, instead of on post at the institution, this has not
been implemented to date.158 The DOC correctional officer training Plan for FY 2018/19 was
151

Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members, July 17-21, 2017.
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members, July 17-21, 2017.
153
Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC correctional officer, July 17, 2017.
154
DOC Preliminary Progress Report (see note 15). After Independent Review Team follow-up with a DOC
executive, it was indicated that while numerous facilities in Delaware recently completed their audits and were
pending accreditation following hearings in August 2017, the JTVCC audit has not been assigned an anticipated
date, but will be seeking ACI accreditation.
155
DOC Preliminary Progress Report (see note 15).
156
Ibid.
157
Independent Review Team interview with DOC executive, May 1, 2017.
158
DOC Training Plan FY 2018/19 (see note 14).
152

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signed on June 21, 2017 and includes changes to the training curriculum that will benefit
correctional staff. The time spent on diversity and transportation of offenders training will
increased, and DOC will also implement additional courses on correctional fatigue to fulfillment
and cross gender supervision. Interpersonal communications and interpersonal conflict
resolution are designated 21 hours and 7 hours of training time, respectively.

Recommendations
New Recommendations:
1. The Delaware DOC should expedite the implementation of the 16 hours of “in the seat”
training and reduce the number of online training hours. The DOC Training Plan FY
2018/19 identifies one of its goals and objectives as “[d]eliver one day of EDC In-the-Seat
training to employees on-site/on-shift (Emergency Preparedness, QRT and CPR/AED in
FY18; Emergency Preparedness QRT and First Aid in FY19). The second day of In-the-Seat
training will be conducted at the EDC.”159 These in-person training hours should be
mandated for priority topics and courses to ensure that staff can apply the key training
principles in real world scenarios including role plays, tabletop exercises, and training
simulators. The DOC should also create two working groups—one for custodial staff and
one for non-custodial staff—to review research and practices from other state correctional
systems to determine if 16 hours is an adequate number of “in the seat” training hours,
what topics may be prioritized during that time, and identifying other innovative
contemporary training topics and strategies.
2. Individual DOC facilities should be able to tailor aspects of the annual in-service training
to their specific needs. The JTVCC and other facilities should be given the ability to conduct
certain trainings on priority topics such as effective leadership and management in a
correctional environment, creating a positive culture through respectful communication,
and procedural justice and active listening. Additionally, including an IPC component in the
annual in-service review would be beneficial for all staff at the JTVCC and leadership courses
including Making Direct Supervision Work: The Role of the Housing-Unit Officer and Making
Direct Supervision Work: The Role of the First-Line Supervisor. These training hours should
be updated on an annual basis and meet federal, state, and other appropriate certification
standards.
3. Ensure that training courses prioritize topics and courses that are essential to operating a
21st Century correctional facility that focuses on rehabilitation.
Entry level and in-service training should be contemporary, robust, multi-dimensional, and
prepare correctional personnel to confront novelty as well as develop and implement a

159

DOC Training Plan FY 2018/19 (see note 14).

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response amidst uncertainty.160 It would be beneficial to review entry-level and in-service
curricula from other state DOC agencies such as Maryland or New Jersey.161
4. Prohibit training from being conducted while on post. Mandating that training be
completed while on post distracts officers from their job duties and does not allow them to
get the full benefit of the trainings. Implementing a process where all training is completed
while officers are not on post, will allow the officers more time to understand the content,
address any concerns if needed, and truly focus on learning.
5. The JTVCC should expedite the creation of a field training officer (FTO) program, link it to
other leadership development and upward mobility opportunities, and ensure that
qualified applicants are selected. The JTVCC should require FTOs to apply and be selected
based on their ability to effectively manage and contribute to a culture of positivity at the
JTVCC. FTOs should also be qualified to deliver training in critical courses of instruction. As
part of a regular review process, FTOs should be evaluated on their instruction in, and daily
application of, key principles identified through the ACA accreditation process and the
JTVCC training review.162
6. Require that all DOC training instructors complete train-the-trainer courses from an
accredited agency such as the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) or the American
Correctional Association (ACA). In order to ensure that trainers are providing information
and instructions that coincide with promising practices and national standards, all trainers
should be required to complete train-the-trainer trainings or receive certification from an
accredited agency. Additionally, consideration should be given to augmenting the JTVCC
training staff with personnel from other facilities, the Central Office, and external subject
matter experts—including practitioners, academics, and national-level experts with
curricula vitae (CVs) that reflect their expertise.
Recommendations from the preliminary report:
1. Prioritize achievement of American Correctional Association (ACA) accreditation at the
JTVCC.

160

“In order to perform effectively under stress, law enforcement training should strive to provide stressful
encounters that replicate challenging, real life situations and encounters.” Stress and Decision Making (Federal Law
Enforcement Training Center, 2011), https://www.fletc.gov/sites/default/files/imported_files/reference/researchpapers/Stress-and-Decision-Making-04-06-12--Approved---Pulic-Release--508-Accessible.pdf, 2-3.
161
For examples see “Correctional Entry-Level Objectives,” Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional
Services, effective July 1, 2012, http://mdle.net/pdf/CELTPobj-7-1-13.pdf; “New Jersey Department of Corrections
Site Visit Report,” https://www.excelsior.edu/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=7d4e5175-0d16-4f99-bcba108ecb4853ce.
162
FTO training programs are operational in several DOC facilities. The DOC is moving towards standardizing the
FTO program across its facilities.
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2. Ensure training topics and hours meet national corrections standards and include real world
scenarios.
3. Provide refresher and specialized training, such as Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) and
leadership training, on an annual basis.
4. Develop a Field Training Officer program.

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Chapter 7. Communication
Overview
Clear and consistent communication and information-sharing is
central to any successful professional environment, but is
particularly important to maintaining a safe and secure correctional
facility.

Clear and consistent communication and information-sharing is central to any successful
professional environment, but is particularly important to maintaining a safe and secure
correctional facility. Lack of communication between officers from one shift to another,
between front-line staff and supervisors, and between supervisors and JTVCC administrators
culminated in an overwhelming culture of divisiveness at the JTVCC and contributed to the
incident that began on February 1, 2017. As one JTVCC executive said to the Independent
Review Team, “[o]nce communications breaks down, the team breaks down, and everything
breaks down.”163

Observations
Breakdowns in communication compound issues throughout the JTVCC
Lack of communication—between officers from one shift to another, between front-line staff
and supervisors, and between supervisors and JTVCC administrators—was identified as a
priority problem at the JTVCC by all levels of staff interviewed by the Independent Review
Team. Information about potential problematic inmates and security issues, updates to policies
and procedures, and other daily occurrences, is not consistently and accurately shared between
shifts, compound buildings, and all levels of custodial and non-custodial staff.
The lack of consistent strategy and communication by JTVCC administrators contribute to
confusion and the dissemination of inaccurate or incomplete information to rank-and-file
correctional officers. With no clear and consistent communication from JTVCC administrators to
the entire staff, policies and procedures were essentially open to the interpretations of
individual supervisors and correctional officers, leading to significant inconsistencies in the
ways in which the same posts were operated from shift-to-shift and day-to-day. These
inconsistencies caused by the lack of communication not only led to stress and confusion for
correctional officers and their colleagues, but also for inmates, who told the Independent
Review Team that they were equally frustrated by the lack of uniformity. Additionally, when
inmates feel that they are being communicated with differently by different correctional
163

Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC executive, July 19, 2017.

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officers, they are more likely to feel targeted and angry, and are more likely to act out.
Therefore, the lack of communication contributed to conflicts between staff members as well
as between staff and inmates contributed to a hostile environment at the JTVCC.
One of the core factors that shape staff and inmate perceptions of the DOC is the fairness and
consistency in which policies, procedures and practices are communicated and exercised –
otherwise known as “procedural justice.”164 When correctional personnel act fairly, they create
legitimacy and encourage general rule-following behavior on the part of staff and inmates. “A
prison environment provides considerable opportunity for arbitrary and capricious exercise of
power, and for authorities to act based on personal prejudice and implicit bias. By acting based
on rules and by applying those rules evenly across people and time, authorities are viewed as
acting fairly. Because rules are explicitly specified in prison settings, the authorities have
considerable capacity to shape and explain their actions by reference to the rules. It is relatively
easy for prison authorities to be seen as following the rules in many situations because the
rules are codified and known to all.”165
The lack of communication at the JTVCC was most apparent in the weeks prior to the February
1, 2017 incident. As discussed in Chapter 2 of this report, an incident involving inmates
occurred on a much smaller scale in the C-Building of the JTVCC on January 15, 2017. Following
the incident, some correctional officers identified the inmates that they believed were primarily
responsible for the incident, and attempted to notify supervisors that those individuals should
be removed—at least temporarily—from C-Building. When they shared this vital information
with their supervisors, no action was taken. In some cases, they were told that if they were
scared, they should find another line of work166 and in others, the Independent Review Team
was told, “when things get reported it goes on deaf ears.”167 However, the front-line
supervisors who did pass along the critical information indicated to the Independent Review
Team that, likewise, they were not taken seriously or were overridden by their superiors
without being provided an opportunity to explain or provide input.
When staff members develop intelligence information or operational insights and are not
listened to, or taken seriously by their supervisors, critical pieces of information are not acted
upon and future information that could be vital to overall safety and security is not shared. In
this case, the lack of action taken based on staff communication regarding the January 15, 2017
incident, directly contributed to the incident that began on February 1, 2017.

164

Tom R. Tyler, Why People Obey the Law (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2006).
Jonathan Jackson et al., “Legitimacy and procedural justice in prisons,” Prison Service Journal 191 (2010): 5.
166
Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC staff member, July 20, 2017.
167
Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC staff member, July 17, 2017.
165

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Inmate information management systems are not used effectively by the JTVCC staff
An offender management system should provide correctional staff
“real-time offender data improving the safety of staff and inmates
along with better care of inmates.”168

The Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) uses an offender information management
system, known as the Delaware Automated Correctional System (DACS), which allows
correctional officers to enter in and view information on inmate activities from previous shifts.
DACS contains complete demographic and programming information on inmates and detainees,
and grievances, with the exception of medical, mental health, PREA, and gang information. For
more sensitive information about inmates—including potential gang affiliation—certain
employees at each DOC facility have access to an additional system, known as IntelliDACS.
IntelliDACS is primarily used by the Security Threat Group (STG) at the JTVCC. The STG—which is
currently one officer who performs this duty when not assigned to other tasks—identifies,
researches, and validates each inmate’s potential gang involvement in the JTVCC and any
additional information regarding potential gang involvement prior to their sentence, and enters
the information into IntelliDACS. Despite these information management systems, sharing of
gang information and intelligence within the JTVCC and between facilities is limited. JTVCC staff
reported to the Independent Review Team that in C-Building, some gang members were not
only housed in adjacent cells and across the hall from each other – making communication and
planning much easier—but in some cases were even housed in the same cells. Especially after
October 2016, when all three tiers of the building were allowed out of their cells for recreation
at the same time, this lack of information sharing and communication posed significant security
issues for correctional officers.
There are no opportunities—such as roll calls, unit meetings, or all-staff meetings—for staff
to share information on a regular basis and debrief after events
The breakdown of communication between individual JTVCC staff members and the lack of
effective use of the offender information management systems is exacerbated by the fact that
there are no opportunities for staff to share information on a regular basis or debrief after
certain events. “Muster”—also known as roll call—is an effective way for supervisory staff to
inform correctional officers about important policy and procedure updates, STG information,
and other critical information occurring in the JTVCC. It is also an opportunity for correctional
officers to inform their colleagues and supervisors about potentially problematic inmates under
their supervision and to provide innovative solutions to ongoing challenges. When broadened
beyond individual musters, and extended to meetings of the staff of an entire housing unit and
168

“Strategic Offender Management System (SOMS),” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, last
accessed August 23, 2017, http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/SOMS/index.html.
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the entire JTVCC staff, these meetings are even more impactful to identify and mitigate
potential larger security issues and concerns in the facility. In essence, line staff need to feel
they are a trusted part of the solution, know who is under their supervision and what potential
risks those individuals pose, and feel empowered to supervise the inmates as safely as
possible.169
Additionally, debriefs and after-action reports are valuable opportunities to communicate as a
team. Some of the best lessons learned, best practices, and improvements come from reviews
of specific decisions made and actions taken in response to a particular incident, especially
when such reviews are completed in a manner that emphasizes discussing, learning, and
improving.170 Regularly reviewing best practices and lessons learned from incidents and
discussing how to incorporate these practices has assisted other agencies in managing and
improving their response to critical incidents.171 Since the C-Building staff—and the JTVCC staff
as a whole—did not conduct any debriefs or after-action reports following the January 15, 2015
inmate uprising, there was no opportunity to identify lessons learned and make the necessary
changes to increase the safety and security of the JTVCC prior to the incident that began on
February 1, 2017.

Actions taken by the State since February 2017
In July 2017, the DOC Preliminary Progress Report (Provided in Response to the JTVCC
Independent Review Preliminary Report) was released with specific responses regarding
communication. According to the report, the DOC STG Subcommittee of the Reset & Rebuild
Initiative is actively working to address the issues related to sharing of gang intelligence and
general information in DACS. The DOC strategic plan also contains deliverables to improve
communication of inmate affiliation and membership in gangs to line staff and incorporate
gang information into the inmate classification process.172 A second STG investigator is also
being hired at the JTVCC to facilitate the identification and sharing of information related to

169

The Department has already taken steps in this direction. Several committees have been established by
Commissioner Phelps after the incident. One is an STG Committee, which is led by Warden Wesley and Major
Merson. The committee is examining how each institution handles STG intelligence and will make
recommendations to the commissioner.
170

For more critical incident reviews, visit the Police Foundation’s critical incident review library at
https://www.policefoundation.org/critical-incident-review-library/.
171

Rick Braziel et al., Bringing Calm to Chaos: A Critical Incident Review of the San Bernardino Public Safety
Response to the December 2, 2015, Terrorist Shooting Incident at the Inland Regional Center, Critical Response
Initiative (Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2016),
https://www.policefoundation.org/bringing-calm-to-chaos-a-police-foundation-review-of-the-san-bernardinoterrorist-attacks-2/; Frank Straub, Jennifer Zeunik, and Ben Gorban, “Lessons Learned from the Police Response to
the San Bernardino and Orlando Terrorist Attacks,” CTC Sentinel 10, no. 5 (May 2017),
https://ctc.usma.edu/posts/lessons-learned-from-the-police-response-to-the-san-bernardino-and-orlandoterrorist-attacks.
172

Department of Correction 2017 Strategic Plan: 90 Day Deliverables, provided by DOC to Independent Review
Team, July 2017, reviewed by Independent Review Team July – August 2017.

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inmates’ gang affiliations.173 While some gang intelligence information should not be open to all
staff depending on the type and veracity of the information, other intelligence should be shared
as appropriate for the safety of the facility. Correctional officers should know when they are
housing multiple gang members in the same building, tier, or cell.
Additionally, the new warden of the JTVCC is to be commended for immediately attempting to
address and resolve the communication issues that contributed to the incident that began on
February 1, 2017. Since his appointment, the new warden has started an informal “Word of the
Day” test—in which he tells one staff member a specific word and, over the course of the day,
asks other staff members if they know the word—to identify and begin to resolve some
communication issue areas.174 The JTVCC has also implemented musters in order to facilitate
the sharing of important information between shifts, buildings, and ranks.
The DOC also has identified an internal debrief as a possible topic for the new LaborManagement Committee.175 It is important that lessons be learned and improvements be
identified from the incident that began on February 1, 2017, be studied and applied by the
JTVCC, and be shared by the DOC and the State of Delaware more generally.

Recommendations
New Recommendations:
1. The JTVCC should continue to test communication channels and immediately address
identified issues. The new JTVCC warden shared his informal “Word of the Day” technique
with the Independent Review Team. It is an excellent technique to determine if the lines of
communication are open and to identify gaps. The next step is to deliver more complex
information over time, across shifts, across locations, and upward as well as downward
through the organization to continue to test communication channels and facilitate
information sharing. Additionally, as the tests become more complex, the timeframe to
address the issues and the importance afforded to solving them must be treated
accordingly.
2. JTVCC administrators and all levels supervisors should build relationships and regularly
communicate with one another to share promising practices. Other DOC facilities are
valuable resources to learn about successful practices and should be adapted at the JTVCC,
including the implementation of muster. Sharing lessons learned with the DOC and between
DOC facilities can bridge information gaps and identify innovative practices that facilitate
communication and positively contribute to safe and secure facilities.
173

DOC Preliminary Progress Report (see note 15).
Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC warden, July 19, 2017.
175
The Independent Review Team understands that a DOC debrief with other emergency response agencies into
the incident that began on February 1, 2017 has been postponed due to the ongoing criminal investigation.
174

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3. JTVCC administrators and all levels of supervisors should receive training in
communication skills. It was repeatedly suggested to the Independent Review Team that
the DOC conduct training for JTVCC supervisors on the importance of sharing information
throughout the chain of command and consistency in communicating policies and
procedures. Leadership training that stresses the importance of communication and
improving morale to “ensure all correctional employees feel valued, heard and supported,”
is necessary for the JTVCC.176
4. Require employees to enter in, and read, information into DACS at the beginning and end
of each shift. In order to ensure effective communication between shifts, and in lieu of
larger staff meetings, all JTVCC employees should be required to submit summaries—
highlighting problematic inmates, potential threats, any notable occurrences, and other
information—into DACS at the end of their shift. Employees at the beginning of their shifts
should be required to log into DACS and read these summaries prior to going to their post
assignments so that they are aware of any potential issues. Additionally, greater
information sharing and usage of gang information through DACS and certain information
on STG threats from IntelliDACS will support safety throughout the JTVCC.
Recommendations from the preliminary report:
1. The Commissioner should order a review of the current structure and communication
practices of the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, and perhaps the entire Department.
2. The Department should conduct leadership development training for JTVCC supervisors to
reinforce the need for consistent application of policies and procedures, and to educate
them on the need to share information both laterally and horizontally throughout the entire
chain of command.
3. Although limited, additional information about gang members (at least leader, member,
associate) must be made available to line staff who supervise them in housing units in
addition to the STG check box in DACS. Bulletins with important information that comes to
the attention of the STG unit should also be shared as appropriate.
4. DACS should be programmed to enable officers to see all the identified gang members on a
tier with one click – perhaps a snapshot of the floor plan with flags where gang members
are housed.
5. Conduct a joint debrief/table top review of the incident response with DSP and other
emergency response agencies.

176

DOC Commissioner’s Directives on Leadership and Concepts of Interactive Leadership (see note 81).

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6. DOC should conduct an internal debrief of all major incidents, and specifically the February
1, 2017 incident, to identify and share lessons learned, provide an opportunity(s) for staff to
contribute to the review process, and help bring closure to JTVCC staff and other units that
responded to the incident.

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Chapter 8. Equipment and Technology
Overview
Equipment and technology are critical tools for correction institutions. These resources not only
extend the ability of correction staff to operate a safe and secure facility for both staff and
inmates, but they also serve a vital role when incidents do occur. The lack of the proper
equipment and technology can have serious consequences during any critical incident, but are
magnified during a critical incident in a correction facility. Technological failures do not only
consist of technology failing to operate temporarily, but are also caused by the inability to rely
on equipment and technology to function as designed and intended. It is therefore critical that
the Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) and its information technology (IT) personnel
maintain information systems and other technology that fully meet the needs of correctionspecific staff.
Currently, when the DOC purchases technology equipment, such purchases are completed
through the Department of Technology Information (DTI).177 DTI’s 2016-2019 Statewide
Information Technology Strategic Plan states their mission is, “to provide technology services
and collaborative solutions for Delaware.”178 Correction officials reported to the Independent
Review Team that during the incident that began on February 1, 2017, DTI staff were extremely
helpful and responsive to the needs and requests of correction and law enforcement officials.

Observations
The hardware/server infrastructure at the JTVCC is outdated
The offender information management system used by all Delaware Department of Correction is
the Delaware Automated Correction System (DACS). The hardware/server infrastructure used to
run DACS is approximately five years old and is in need of replacement. The system also lacks
redundancy—which would enable DACS to continue to operate should the primary server go
down for any reason—and is costly to maintain.
Additionally, the Department of Correction 2017 Strategic Plan: 90 Day Deliverables includes
goals to upgrade staff and inmate phones to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to facilitate
communication, medical care delivery, and treatment options; to implement video visitation for
inmates and their families; and, to offer digital and electronic programming, entertainment,
177

DTI provides the IT infrastructure and applications for the state. DTI advocates for resources from the State
legislature, federal agencies, or foundations to implement plans for IT systems integration.
178
Statewide Information Technology Strategic Plan: 2016-2019, Delaware Department of Technology and
Information, downloaded May 22, 2017, https://dti.delaware.gov/pdfs/strategicplan/Delaware-Statewide-ITStrategic-Plan.pdf.
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and operational functionality via tablets for inmates.179 In order to support the second focus
area—“Improve Delivery & Quality of Service to Offenders”—and achieve all of the identified
goals, the IT systems at both the JTVCC and the DOC must to be updated significantly. A number
of additional Access Points are needed in order to enable all of these technologies to operate
simultaneously, as well as prepare for the use of new mobile technologies as they continue to
be adapted for correctional facilities.
Equipment and technology are critical tools for correction
institutions. These resources not only extend the ability of correction
staff to operate a safe and secure facility for both staff and inmates,
but they also serve a vital role when incidents do occur.

Some of the DOC-specific equipment and technology needs have been overlooked
Undoubtedly, purchasing equipment and technology across State agencies is a good business
practice that enables the State of Delaware to take advantage of significant cost savings as well
as create a more consistent infrastructure. However, although the DOC has many of the same
needs as other State agencies, the DOC also has some specific needs driven by its need to
confine individuals for long periods of time, many of whom have the potential to be dangerous
and unpredictable, as occurred during the incident that began on February 1, 2017. Since
providing a safe and secure environment for both those confined and those who work in
correctional facilities requires the use and understanding of specialized equipment and
technology, consideration must be given to the unique equipment and technology needs of the
DOC. Therefore, a specialized group of IT technicians/correctional officer (CO) technicians and
similar staff supporting information technology should be employed by, or under the direct
oversight of, the DOC.
Additionally, several buildings at the JTVCC do not have any type of cameras and few, if any
cameras, are believed to have audio capability. Some cameras at the JTVCC are very basic, are
not connected to recording devices, and those that are connected only retain footage for 15
days.
The lack of cameras contributed to insufficient security at the JTVCC
Correction facilities install cameras to cover areas that officers are unable to continuously
monitor and enable correctional officers to view inmates and operations beyond what they can
see themselves. There are various reasons for the lack of cameras in the C-Building including
the difficulty of running conduit/cables, low ceilings, and cost. Only one camera was installed
that was capable of viewing the exterior of C-Building. In fact, during the incident that began on
179

Department of Correction 2017 Strategic Plan: 90 Day Deliverables (see note 172).

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February 1, 2017, that pan, tilt, and zoom camera (PTZ) was directed to focus on the front of CBuilding and is the only camera that captured video of the C-Building during the incident.180
The lack of additional cameras at the C-Building, and cameras equipped with microphones—
which enable correctional officers to listen to discussions between inmates and other
potentially suspicious events as they transpire, even if inmates cover the camera lenses or
stand outside of their view—indirectly contributed to the incident that began on February 1,
2017. Many correctional institutions nationwide have more than one camera per housing unit
with capabilities to not only record video, but also audio. These cameras are fed to a specific
room on the compound where they are monitored in real-time, to provide continuous
situational awareness of the entire facility and further contribute to institutional safety and
security.

James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. Photo: “James T. Vaughn Correctional Center,” Delaware Department of
Corrections, http://www.doc.delaware.gov/BOP/PrisonDCC.shtml.

180

“Discrepancies memo: 2014 equipment budget request and camera proposal, provided by DOC to Independent
Review Team, May 2017, reviewed by the Independent Review Team, May 2017.
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Radios are not provided to all JTVCC staff
Some civilian staff at the JTVCC indicated to the Independent Review Team that, because of the
lack of radios at the facility, they are not issued radios or other means of communication during
their shifts.181 During the incident that began on February 1, 2017, many civilian staff did not
know what was occurring until notified by telephone.

Actions taken by the State since February 2017
The DOC and the JTVCC have taken steps to directly address technology-related shortfalls. The
Delaware Division of Communication is working on encrypting the DOC radios and the DOC is
exploring means to expedite the process.
In March 2017, Governor Carney announced the investment of $340,800 in new security and
communications equipment to better equip correctional officers to respond to and prevent
violent incidents at the JTVCC and in Level V facilities statewide. Governor Carney proposed
another $1.2 million for equipment purchases in his Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget Proposal.182
In August 2017, the Bureau Chief of Prisons issued a directive to all DOC facilities requiring that
they implement procedures to incorporate the use of handheld video cameras during cell
extractions and forced moves, including for all incidents of planned use of force. 183

Recommendations
New Recommendations:
1. The DOC should prioritize the replacement/upgrade of the hardware/server infrastructure
used to operate DACS, including accounting for addition Access Points and Active Port
costs. The server/hardware infrastructure has reached the end of its usefulness and should
be replaced. This also presents the opportunity for the DOC and the JTVCC to create
redundant capability, upgrade servers/hardware to support the goals and objectives
identified in the DOC Strategic Plan, and ensure that vital systems continue to be available
to run in the event of critical operations.

181

Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC staff member, May 5, 2017.
“Governor Carney takes steps to address security concerns at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center,” State of
Delaware, March 13, 2017, http://news.delaware.gov/2017/03/13/governor-carney-takes-steps-to-addresssecurity-concerns-at-james-t-vaughn-correctional-center/.
183
In the preliminary report, the Independent Review Team recommended that the DOC explore a Body-Worn
Camera (BWC) program with their Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). At the end of January 2017, the
DOC concluded a test of BWCs during use of force instances at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution and
concluded that handheld camcorders were more efficient for planned uses of force.
182

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2. DOC should authorize additional Correctional Officer Technician positions for IT support
throughout their facilities. Technicians that routinely work in a correctional environment
should be specially trained in corrections. With the increase of technology in DOC facilities,
correctional officer technicians that are localized, trained as correctional officers, and have
relevant operational knowledge, are needed to meet the growing needs of the facilities.
3. The State of Delaware should consider the unique technology and equipment needs of the
DOC and specific facilities. Given the unique roles and responsibilities of the DOC and its
facilities, the State of Delaware should consider and support certain and reasonable budget
requests for needed equipment and information technology systems. The Delaware
offender management system (DACS) supplies critical information to all staff in the DOC and
failure or lapses in its operation could have serious consequences.
4. The JTVCC should purchase equipment, such as cameras, that contribute to overall inmate,
staff, and facility safety and security. While there are always budget limitations, requests
to support critical equipment and technology needs should be prioritized to inform
legislators which requests are deemed most critical. Many correctional institutions
nationwide have more than one camera per housing unit with capabilities to not only
record video, but also audio. These cameras are fed to a specific room on the compound
where they are monitored in real-time, to provide continuous situational awareness of the
entire facility and further contribute to institutional safety and security.
5. JTVCC civilian staff should be provided with radios or other devices to communicate with
sworn correctional staff. It is both a concern and a potential liability that certain staff are
not provided with a means of communication during their shifts. During the incident that
began on February 1, 2017, many civilian staff did not know that an incident was occurring,
or of its severity, until someone called them by telephone.
Recommendations from the preliminary report:
1. With the review and approval of the newly appointed Warden, the Department should
purchase all recommended cameras, recorders and related equipment necessary to
adequately cover all of JTVCC as recommended by the recent review done by DTI and have
the systems installed as soon as possible.
2. The Department must expedite the encrypting of all the radios (agency wide) to prevent this
issue in the future.
3. The Department should be authorized the funding needed for the replacement of the
offender information system known as DACS including Access Points and Active Port costs.
4. Delaware DOC should explore developing a policy and pilot test a Body Worn Camera
program with their CERT Team. Based on this experience, the Department could expand the
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use of BWCs to officers who work in buildings where there are higher numbers of incidents
and altercations (medium-high and high security).

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Chapter 9. Inmate Health, Programs, and Resources
Overview
It is important for correctional executives and correctional officers to recognize that most
incarcerated individuals will, at some point, be released from institutional confinement and free
to reenter society. In fact, during any given year, approximately 600,000 – 700,000 individuals
are released from state prisons to reenter society.184 At present, corrections is among, if not,
the component of the criminal justice system most directly involved in influencing reentry
outcomes.185
Reentry is the term used to describe the process of, as well as, the “issues related to the
transition of offenders from prison to community supervision.”186 The corrections profession
has found itself overburdened and strained in the task of ensuring the safety, health, and
wellness of an ever-increasing number of inmates.
Therefore, throughout the corrections profession, “a number of practitioners in the corrections
field have embraced the challenge of rethinking their core functions through a reentry lens.”187
Successful reentry, however, is the only way to begin to alleviate some of the pressure that
mass incarceration has placed upon criminal justice institutions and facilities.

Observations
Required inmate medical and mental health services and processes are inconsistent at the
JTVCC
“Delivery of health care is terrible. There are numerous delays. Inmates are not being
seen for chronic care. Medical needs are not being met.”188
Inmate access to medical and mental health services is mandated by the United States Supreme
Court.189 Also, meeting inmate medical and mental health needs makes facilities safer and more
manageable. In interviews with inmates and staff at the JTVCC, the Independent Review Team
184

E. Ann Carson and William J. Sabol, Prisoners in 2011, Bulletin (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics,
2012), NCJ 239808, https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p11.pdf; Joan Petersilia, When Prisoners Come Home:
Parole and Prisoner Reentry (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
185
Jeremy Travis, “Reflections on the Reentry Movement,” Federal Sentencing Reporter 20, no. 2 (2007): 84-87.
186
Joshua A. Markman et al., Recidivism of Offenders Placed on Federal Community Supervision in 2005: Patterns
from 2005 to 2010, BJS Special Reports (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2016), NCJ 249743.
187
Travis, “Reflections on the Reentry Movement,” 84 (see note 185).
188
Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC staff member, July 17-21, 2017.
189
Estelle v Gamble, 429 US 97 (1976) reh. den. 429 US 1066 (1977), and on remand 554 F2d 653 (5th Cir. 1977),
reh. den. 559 F2d 1217(5th Cir.1977) and cert den. 434 US 974 (1977), accessed August 30, 2017,
https://www.law.uh.edu/healthlaw/perspectives/Privacy/030128HIPAAs.pdf.
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heard numerous complaints regarding the access, delivery, and quality of the healthcare
services. Many individual correctional officers at the JTVCC understand the need for access to
medical and mental health services. However, the entire facility must recognize the importance
of inmate access to timely services and there must be a structure in place that ensures that
inmate needs can be met in a timely and safe manner these services are not provided in a
timely and safe manner at the JTVCC as well as throughout the DOC system.
During the course of this review, the Independent Review Team met with a number of staff
members from the DOC health contractor. The staff members expressed their desire to provide
quality health care despite the security concerns of working in a correctional facility. In fact,
some staff members noted that they provide more care than the budget supports, but willingly
do so in order to provide for the inmates. They also advised that some of their colleagues have
since left because of additional security concerns stemming from the incident that began on
February 1, 2017.190
Within the JTVCC, access to proper medical attention has been hampered by many factors,
including a lack of processes and challenges posed by the electronic health record system being
used by the Delaware Department of Correction (DOC). Issues with parts of the system have
required medical staff to manually enter inmate medication needs, prevented staff from
accessing patient information, and caused disruptions in medication tracking, all of which delay
or disrupt the provision of medical care in a timely and safe manner. Additional modules and
patches have been added to address the issues with the system, but sometimes, without the
technical support or training needed for contractual staff to adapt to the updates.191
In some cases, access to needed medical attention and services has been outranked in
importance by concerns regarding facility safety and staffing needs. While safety concerns and
staffing needs must be accounted for, inmate care cannot be prevented because of how a
particular JTVCC employee may feel on a certain day. In some cases, inmates and correctional
officers indicated that in the event of a staffing shortage, JTVCC administrators and supervisors
would not assist in covering a post so that medical staff could be properly escorted through a
housing unit. Instead, the executives and supervisors would relay the message that if there was
nobody available to escort the medical staff through the housing unit there would be no
medical care during that shift or day.
Finally, some medical bills are sent directly to inmates, rather than the healthcare contractor.
Because most inmates do not have the ability to pay the potentially-costly bills for the services
rendered, their unpaid bills are turned over to collections agencies for follow-up. This process
can create confusion and be a significant obstacle to successful release and reentry into the
community. It also affects the unpaid vendor or specialist, making them less likely to be willing

190
191

Independent Review Team interview with DOC health contract staff members, July 17-21, 2017.
Ibid.

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to provide services in the facility in the future, and further reducing the quality of the services
provided.
The lack of programming is a result of the philosophy, not budgets, at the JTVCC
“We need to prepare these men to go home.”192
“If the education isn’t accessible, then the jobs are not accessible either.”193
The JTVCC civilian staff in the education, medical, and legal departments are short-staffed. As
the inmate population grows, the demands for their services and programs continues to
increase, but because they are limited in number and availability, these individuals are unable
to meet the demands of the inmates. While the JTVCC administrators are correct to be
concerned about the need for custody staff, it is similarly important that the staff who provide
programs and opportunities not be forgotten, as they contribute to the day-to-day operations
of the facility.
For example, the educational programming currently consists of 16 teachers assigned to the
entire Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) from the Department of Education (DOE),
offering approximately four hours of education per teacher per day.194 This education is
focused on fulfilling the requirements for an Adult Basic Education (ABE) certification, General
Equivalency Diploma (GED), or high school degree. As in many other correctional institutions,
the focus of this educational programming is heavy on trades and the opportunities available
are in food service, construction, trucking, and hospitality industries. However, the
Independent Review Team encountered many conflicting views about the value of inmate
education and programming. The Independent Review Team learned that despite the DOE
being responsible for providing the educational programming for the DOC, DOE staff, “does not
want to change, does not want to accept the change in philosophy [within corrections towards
rehabilitation].”195 In recent years, a DOE contractor responsible for delivering education
services had reportedly not been doing so, and as a result, there was a 14-month period in
which GED education was not available to inmates.196
Additionally, JTVCC staff advised the Independent Review Team that the facility’s previous
administration executives simply did not support inmate programs.197 Therefore, programs
were steadily eliminated at the JTVCC, often with the administration executives citing financial
reasons or concerns over whether programs were evidenced-based.198 However, it became
192

Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC staff member, July 17-21, 2017.
Independent Review Team interview with DOC executive, May 2, 2017.
194
Independent Review Team interview with DOC executive, May 2, 2017.
195
Ibid.
196
Ibid.
197
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members, July 17-21, 2017.
198
Ibid.
193

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apparent to the Independent Review Team that unequal allocation of facility resources was the
root cause. Correctional officers and other staff indicated that security was prioritized over
programs, going so far as to say that, “all the money goes to ‘level V’…but there is no money
left in the budget for programming at ‘level IV’.”199
The lack of support for inmate programming remains apparent throughout all levels of JTVCC
staff. Because of the attitude of administration executives, some correctional officers do not
understand the value of programming and treatment for inmates, and worry that additional
programming will further overburden them.200 These negative views towards programming,
seem to be starkly at odds with Delaware DOC’s overall vision regarding programming and the
vision of other DOC facilities such as Sussex. As one JTVCC correctional officers summarized,
“I’m not sure what direction the department as a whole is moving.”
A recurring theme throughout the interviews conducted by the Independent Review Team, was
how other facilities are managing to deal with the same budget challenges as the JTVCC and are
still managing to keep programs running. As one correctional officer mentioned, “Sussex is
doing it the right way.”201 As an example, the warden at another DOC facility is self-funding
inmate programming in unique and creative ways—by looking for staff who have vocational
interests and an interest in working with inmates and hiring them to do the programming—the
staff at the JTVCC have not been leveraged this way.202
The lack of rehabilitative programs and job opportunities negatively impacts inmates at the
JTVCC
The general consensus among both inmates and staff is that the inmate population at the
JTVCC does not have sufficient access to the educational, vocational, and substance abuse
programs necessary to be able to work toward rehabilitation. While the JTVCC does offer some
programs, inmates must be assigned to certain security classifications and housing units to be
eligible to participate. However, the Independent Review Team was told that there are a
number of inmates on waiting lists to participate in programs, even those programs that are
court ordered.203 This inability to access rehabilitative programs and job opportunities
significantly increases inmates’ likelihood of recidivism.
The lack of sufficient programming and access to opportunities at the JTVCC is also the source
of a significant number of the inmate complaints received by the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) of Delaware. Inmates housed in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) and the Medium-High

199

Independent Review Team interview with DOC executive, May 2, 2017.
Independent Review Team interview with a representative of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware,
May 1, 2017.
201
Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC correctional officer, May 2, 2017.
202
Ibid.
203
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC inmates and staff members, May 4-5, 2017, and July 20, 2017.
200

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Housing Unit (MHU) do not have access to programs or to the prison library materials.204
Therefore, these inmates remain idle for the majority of the day. In fact, inmates pleaded, “we
need jobs, we need programs,”205 to the Independent Review Team, and these pleas were
corroborated by JTVCC staff who acknowledged, “these guys have nothing to do."206
Inconsistent volunteer access between facilities may also hamper opportunities for inmates. In
an interview with the Independent Review Team, a clergy member reported being able to enter
other facilities without difficulty but was asked for additional requirements to enter the
JTVCC.207
The significant amounts of idle time allow inmates ample time to devise, test, and refine plans
to act out and obtain contraband. While the incident that began on February 1, 2017 continues
to be the subject of investigation, there seems to be wide consensus that it was a planned
event. Based on interviews and information gathered from both internal and external afteraction reports reviewed by the Independent Review Team, it is likely that the building
resentment that contributed to the incident that began on February 1, 2017 might have
otherwise been released or redirected if they had been engaged in programming, education,
and jobs to look forward to.
The JTVCC does not incentivize positive behavior
“[T]here is low reward (for inmates) for positive behavior and high reward for negative
behavior.”208
In addition to fueling idleness, the lack of programming also reduces inmates’ opportunity to
earn time off—also known as “good time credits”—from their sentences. These credits are
acquired when an inmate completes a program or performs well at their prison job.209
However, with the lack of programing and the ability to earn “good credits” at the JTVCC the
day-to-day routine is centered on getting through the day and avoiding being disciplined. It is
important to note that correctional officers echoed the inmates’ sentiment—Independent
Review Team interviews with JTVCC correctional officers conveyed that idleness is a problem,
and that they would much rather see inmates working or learning job skills.210 Many inmates
were forthcoming in their assessment that there are no worthwhile incentives to demonstrate
positive behavior because there are no “good time credits” to be earned.211 Some inmates went

204

Inmate letters forwarded by the ACLU and independent community groups to the Independent Review Team,
May – August 2017.
205
Independent Review Team observations on site at the JTVCC, May 2, 2017.
206
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members, July 17-21, 2017.
207
Independent Review Team interview with clergy member and volunteer in Delaware, July 21, 2017.
208
Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC staff member, July 19, 2017.
209
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members, May 1-5, 2017.
210
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC officers, May 4-5, 2017.
211
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC inmates, May 4, 2017, and July 20, 2017.
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so far as to comment, “there was a lot less fighting when we had more programs.”212 Incentives
for positive behavior are essential to encourage and reinforce desired behavior.

Incentivizing Good Behavior:
In recent years Departments of Correction in various states have introduced initiatives
designed to provide inmates with incentives for good behavior. In 2004, the Arizona
Department of Corrections implemented ‘Getting Ready,’ a program that uses a threetiered system of graduated earned incentives, allowing inmates to earn certain rewards
for good behavior over time. From 2004-2007, the program was found to decrease
inmate assaults on other inmates by 46 percent, inmate assaults on staff by 33 percent,
suicides by 67 percent, and sexual assaults by 61 percent.
Similarly, in Colorado, the state’s Department of Corrections has implemented incentivedriven initiatives that have been seen to decrease disciplinary violations. Colorado’s
program has grown to include an Incentive Living Program available at facilities that
house medium custody offenders where eligible inmates must meet certain behavioral
and programmatic requirements and are offered additional privileges, programs, and
responsibilities.

Sources: Dora Schriro, “Getting Ready: How Arizona Has Created a ‘Parallel Universe’ for Inmates,”
National Institute of Justice Journal No. 263 (June 2009), https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/226871.pdf;
Kirk Mitchell, “Limon prison incentive programs keep inmates in check,” The Denver Post, November 14,
2010, http://www.denverpost.com/2010/11/14/limon-prison-incentive-programs-keep-inmates-in-check/;
and, Colorado Department of Corrections, Regulation Number 650-01, Incentive Living Program,
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4vYiI52TzO6TWw5cmZnbW1rNFk/view.

Because inmates cannot earn privileges—such as extra time to watch television—there is little
incentive to follow the rules. For example, during the summer months, temperatures in some
of the housing units at the JTVCC reach upwards of 100 degrees. Hot, bored, and restless
inmates are much more difficult to manage, and some engage in violent behavior just to be
placed in an air-conditioned building like the SHU and MHU.213
Even when the JTVCC implements a program that includes some progression of privileges
between and within different security levels, many incentives fail to consider a totality of
212
213

Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC inmate, July 20, 2017.
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members, July 19-21, 2017.

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circumstances. For example, the JTVCC recently incorporated a Residential Treatment Unit to
provide inmates access to certain mental health programming, but while an inmate participates
in the program, they may be required to give up a uniform that identifies them as lower
security.214

Actions taken by the State since February 2017
In July 2017, the DOC Preliminary Progress Report (Provided in Response to the JTVCC
Independent Review Preliminary Report) was released. According to the report, the DOC is also
an active participant in the Smart Pre-Trial Policy Working Group, which “seeks, in part, to
reduce pretrial detention rates consistently with public safety.” 215 Engaging in coalition building
with external community service providers is a promising strategy to preemptively provide
programming and ease the burden on correctional facility programs.
In August 2017, the DOC released the Department of Correction 2017 Strategic Plan: 90 Day
Deliverables. The DOC Strategic Plan includes the goal to “modify and expand education and job
training opportunities for level 4 offenders,” and includes an articulated commitment to begin
utilizing the Risk-Need-Responsivity assessment results to appropriately assign inmates to
relevant programming.216 The Strategic Plan also includes the vision, “to develop re-entry
focused community corrections programs and facilities that provide treatment, education,
and/or training programs to match offender needs.”217 The new Bureau of Community
Corrections (BCC) Chief—who has an impressive knowledge of evidence based correctional
programming –explained that his first task is to ensure that field operations are incorporating
evidence-based programs and methods, including at the JTVCC.

214

Independent Review Team interview with JTVCC contractual staff member, July 20, 2017.
DOC Preliminary Progress Report (see note 15).
216
Department of Correction 2017 Strategic Plan: 90 Day Deliverables (see note 172).
217
Ibid.
215

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National Criminal Justice Reform Project:
In March 2017, the State of Delaware was selected to participate in the National Criminal
Justice Reform Project to improve reentry services for inmates. The project supports
planning and implementation of evidence-based reform. In Delaware, the project
focuses on reducing recidivism and improving the reentry process, and improving access
to mental health and substance abuse treatment for offenders in the state’s criminal
justice system.
More information on the National Criminal Justice Reform Project can be found at
http://www.ncjp.org/ncjrp. A draft system blueprint of the Delaware recidivism
reduction system is displayed in Figure 4.

Source: “Delaware to Participate in National Criminal Justice Reform Project,” State of Delaware, March
27, 2017, http://news.delaware.gov/2017/03/27/delaware-to-participate-in-national-criminal-justicereform-project/.

Recommendations
New Recommendations:
1. The DOC should conduct an independent assessment of the health care and mental health
care provided at the JTVCC. Further examination is needed to understand the state of the
delivery and quality of the healthcare services at the JTVCC. The review should focus on the
current systems in place for determining if inmates are receiving the physical and mental
health care that they are mandated to be provided, ensuring that medical staff are escorted
through each housing unit at structured times, and determining if medical personnel and
contractors have sufficient expertise and authority to be sure appropriate services are
delivered in a timely and sufficient manner. The DOC review should also include
determining if appropriate and effective incentives and penalties exist to encourage
community standard-of-care services and ensuring that service providers work with the
healthcare company to receive payment for their services instead of having to bill inmates.
As part of the assessment, or in conjunction with it, the DOC should also have a third-party

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with experience in electronic health records review the current electronic health records
system.218
2. Develop a strategic plan to prioritize the restoration and expansion of evidence-based
programs and job opportunities at the JTVCC. Evidence-based programs and job
opportunities provide inmates with the education, marketable skills, drug and/or alcohol
rehabilitation, cognitive behavioral interventions, and other needed opportunities to
increase their successful re-entry and decrease their likelihood of recidivism. In addition to
helping eliminate inmate idleness, these programs and opportunities are typically powerful
incentives for positive behavior.
3. Identify creative solutions, including working with JTVCC staff and counselors, to deliver
inmate programming and opportunities. Given staff shortages, the DOC is considering
hiring “casual/seasonal employees to work with BOP & OC (Planning and Research) to
recruit volunteers who can be trained to administer CBT programming in the Level V
facilities.”219 However, as other DOC facilities have done, the JTVCC should consider
leveraging staff and counselors to offer programs. Some of the counselors reported
eagerness to offer programs, and indicated they could do so with a little training, saying,
“many of us have advanced degrees, but we aren’t allowed to go to training to learn more
progressive methods.”220 Likewise, some of the correctional officers indicated they would
be willing to oversee certain programs.
4. Review contracts for behavioral health and substance abuse treatment programs to
identify opportunities for cognitive behavioral interventions to be included in the delivery
of services. Among the articulated goals of the Department of Correction 2017 Strategic
Plan: 90 Day Deliverables is to, “increase capacity to provide cognitive behavioral therapy
programming addressing criminal thinking patterns (in level 5 facilities) in response to
clearly identified needs.”221 The JTVCC, and the DOC at large, should review educational
programming as some systems have successfully built cognitive behavioral components into
their curricula.
5. The JTVCC must develop a system of privileges and incentives to encourage positive
behaviors on the part of inmates. Developing a system of privileges and incentives that
provides rewards—including being allowed to spend additional free time in the airconditioned buildings—and further encourages positive inmate behavior would make
inmates easier to manage and provide them opportunities to practice some of the skills and

218

No member of the Independent Review Team has sufficient knowledge as to the sufficiency or quality of health
care, be it general medical or mental health care, administered within the DOC. However, enough complaints were
raised to believe an independent assessment of the current delivery of health care services should be undertaken.
219
Department of Correction 2017 Strategic Plan: 90 Day Deliverables (see note 172).
220
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members, July 17-21.
221
Department of Correction 2017 Strategic Plan: 90 Day Deliverables (see note 172).
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behaviors they will need to succeed upon release. Additionally, positive inmates make the
facility safer.
Figure 4: Delaware Recidivism Reduction System Blueprint222

222

“Delaware Recidivism Reduction System Blueprint,” provided to the Independent Review Team by Superior
Court Judge, August 28, 2017.
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Chapter 10. Building Trust and Legitimacy
Overview
An institutionalized culture of negativity exists at the JTVCC, in which administration executives,
correctional officers, support staff, and inmates view one another as adversaries. The failure to
demonstrate basic levels of respect and performance at multiple levels only works to foster
resentment, model anti-social behavior and likely contributed, at least indirectly, to the
incident that began on February 1, 2017.
As the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing aptly notes, “any law
enforcement organization can make great rules and policies that emphasize the guardian role
but if policies conflict with existing culture, they will not be institutionalized and behavior will
not change.”223 This lesson is directly applicable to correctional organizations. Regardless of
location and rank, the role of the staff in any correctional facility is to ensure the safety and
security of inmates, staff, and overall operations. To this end, it is the responsibility of JTVCC
administrators to ensure that they have the trust and legitimacy to effect positive change and
that they expect the same of their staff.

Defining Procedural Justice and Legitimacy:
Procedural justice, “describes the idea that how individuals regard the justice system is
tied more to the perceived fairness of the process and how they were treated, rather
than to the perceived fairness of the outcome.” Procedural justice directly contributes to
the development and establishment of legitimacy, defined as “a property of an authority
or institution [such as the police or corrections] that leads people to feel that the
authority or institution is entitled to be deferred to and obeyed.” In order to ensure
procedural justice and increase legitimacy, individuals accused of violating the law (or a
rule) must perceive that: 1) they are being treated fairly relative to others; 2) they are
given the chance to explain or defend their behavior; and 3) their explanation is taken
into account before any disciplinary action is taken.
Sources: Emily Gold and Melissa Bradley, “The Case for Procedural Justice: Fairness as a Crime Prevention
Tool,” Community Policing Dispatch 6, no. 9 (2013), https://cops.usdoj.gov/html/dispatch/092013/fairness_as_a_crime_prevention_tool.asp; T. R. Tyler, “What is Procedural Justice?: Criteria Used by
Citizens to Assess the Fairness of Legal Procedures,” Law and Society Review 22, no. 1 (1988): 103-135; T.R.
Tyler, Why People Obey the Law (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990); J. Sunshine and T.R. Tyler,
“The Role of Procedural Justice and Legitimacy in Shaping Public Support for Policing,” Law & Society
Review 37, no. 3 (2003): 513-547.

223

President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century
Policing (Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2015),
http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/taskforce/TaskForce_FinalReport.pdf.
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Observations
JTVCC administrators and leadership do not have the trust of the JTVCC staff
“[A]ny law enforcement organization can make great rules and
policies that emphasize the guardian role but if policies conflict with
existing culture, they will not be institutionalized and behavior will
not change.”224

An endemic lack of trust and legitimacy caused by adversarial relationships is evident
throughout the staff at the JTVCC. In focus groups and individual interviews with correctional
officers, the Independent Review Team was told that many staffing and promotional decisions
are made based on friendships and promises, and that a dangerous level of complacency
among supervisors and a high tolerance for disorganization on the part of JTVCC administrators
has set in.225 This complacency and tolerance for disorganization has allowed for low levels of
competency among staff, as some seem to be unaware of their job duties.226 At the same time,
it has, according to interviews conducted by the Independent Review Team, allowed others to
develop a feeling of superiority, operating in an unnecessarily strict and inflexible manner.227
Additionally, non-custodial staff reported feeling like, “the forgotten ones,” because they are
rarely involved in decision-making processes that impact them and are frequently dismissed as
unimportant.228 In order to ensure the success of corrective actions, and the future of the
JTVCC, it is important that the principles of building trust and legitimacy be prioritized.
The JTVCC inmate grievance system is dysfunctional and impacts the ability of inmates to
trust the JTVCC staff
The Independent Review Team notes numerous complaints and negative comments from both
staff and inmates regarding the grievance system at the JTVCC. The most common issues raised
are: the burden of proof; the multiple grievance and appeals processes including separate
grievance processes for food service, healthcare, operations, and disciplinary issues; and, slow
responses to letters and complaints filed. This has all led to inmates characterizing the
grievance processes as essentially “meaningless” or “a joke.”229

224

Ibid.
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members, July 17-21, 2017.
226
Ibid.
227
Inmate letters forwarded by the ACLU and independent community groups to the Independent Review Team,
May – August 2017.
228
Independent Review Team interviews with JTVCC staff members, May 4-5, 2017.
229
Independent Review Team grievance hearing observations, July 19, 2017.
225

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The levels of proof required of inmates are, in many cases, unreasonable and appear to be
designed to ensure that an inmate rarely, if ever, wins a grievance on property issues. For
example, the Independent Review Team was permitted to observe a grievance hearing over an
allegation of an inmate’s clock being broken during a cell shakedown. The burden of proof
required the inmate to furnish a receipt identifying proof of ownership and a receipt proving
that the clock was in working order at the time it was allegedly damaged. During another
observed grievance hearing, the inmate was required to demonstrate that the towel he was
claiming had been taken was his, despite the fact that marking of personal clothing and
property with a name and identifier to indicate ownership would have be considered a rule
violation subject to discipline. With seemingly impossible burdens of proof to meet, inmates
have little faith in the process and feel that the JTVCC staff do not care about the safety and
security of their belongings.
Similarly, the decision-making process for grievances at the JTVCC is of questionable validity.
Two inmates and three JTVCC staff participate in the decision-making process, which
automatically provides the staff the majority in any decision, a majority which the staff almost
always uses to deny the grievance. The Independent Review Team also observed staff telling
inmates to vote to uphold grievances—which staff indicated they were going to vote to deny—
so that the inmates on the hearing would not be subject to any retribution from the inmate
filing the grievance. Inmate participation, as it currently exists in this process, is entirely
perfunctory and furthers the perception that the process is unfair.
On top of the hearing process being unfair, decisions made by the Regular Grievance
Committee are not final, but rather are recommendations that are reviewed by a JTVCC
administrator, who makes the final decision despite not participating in the hearing. Moreover,
on the rare occasion that the grievance decision favors the inmate, one of the staff members
that was on the committee and participated in the hearing is called in to the administrator’s
office to explain why they ruled in favor of the inmate, and then most rulings are reversed
anyway. This undoubtedly contributes to the anger and frustration of inmates who already
believe the process is stacked against them.
The Independent Review Team also heard a great deal of frustration regarding the length of
time to receive responses to their letters and complaints. The timeframe can reportedly range
anywhere from a week to several months.230

Actions taken by the State since February 2017
The identified issues related to trust and legitimacy were not included in the preliminary report
and have not been specifically responded to by the JTVCC or the Delaware Department of
230

Inmate letters forwarded by the ACLU and independent community groups to the Independent Review Team,
May – August 2017.
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Correction. However, the appointment of the new warden and the new Bureau of Community
Corrections (BCC) Chief—who has an impressive knowledge of evidence based correctional
programming –is a commendable step towards rebuilding the trust and legitimacy at the JTVCC.

Recommendations
New Recommendations:
1. JTVCC administrators and leadership should adopt procedural justice as the guiding
principle in their interactions with correctional staff in order to develop internal
legitimacy. As the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing states, “when
an agency creates an environment that promotes internal procedural justice, it encourages
its officers to demonstrate external procedural justice.” Just as employees are more likely to
take direction from management when they believe that management’s authority is
legitimate, inmates will be more likely to cooperate with correctional officers when they
believe their authority is legitimate.”
2. JTVCC correctional staff should similarly adopt procedural justice as the guiding principle
in their day-to-day interactions with inmates. Correctional officers, much like law
enforcement officers, have to strike a delicate balance between the enforcement of rules
and their guardianship over inmates in order to ensure all around safe operations. As they
issue warnings and citations and revoke privileges, it is important they ensure inmates are
protected from undue harm and are being treated fairly and equitably. “A key factor in the
social order of a prison is legitimacy of the prison regime in the eyes of the inmates . . . The
legitimacy of authorities depends in large part upon the procedural fairness with which
officers treat prisoners.”231
3. The JTVCC should establish a culture of transparency and accountability in order to rebuild
trust and legitimacy with inmates. Trust and legitimacy between correctional officer line
staff and JTVCC leadership is a pre-requisite to making sure decision-making is understood
and in accord with stated policy. It can be incorporated into many types of administrative
processes (such as disciplinary processes and adverse incident debriefs) and even spur the
development on new processes such as “good outcome” debriefs.
4. The JTVCC grievance processes and procedures should be reviewed and revised to be more
efficient and fairer. The JTVCC and/or its designee should review the current JTVCC inmate
grievance process and conduct a gap analysis against national evidence-based best practices
to revise the system. Research on grievance processes and procedures in other states and in
other DOC systems should be reviewed to gain insight into innovative and contemporary
grievance processes. Specifically, a single, consistent grievance process for all inmate issues
231

Jonathan Jackson et al., “Legitimacy and Procedural Justice in Prisons,” Prison Service Journal 191 (2010): 4-10.

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and concerns should exist. The burden of proof in these cases should be a standard and
reasonably met by the individual filing the grievance. The Regular Grievance Committee
should be structured in a way that provides the inmate a realistic opportunity to win
hearings, should the committee decide. The current structure puts inmates in an awkward
and risky position and provides little actual meaning. The appeals process should also be
reviewed to remove the sole decision-making authority from someone who did not observe
the hearing. Inmates are allowed very few possessions and the current system places
unnecessary obstacles in the way of properly accounting for their property, creates
needless opportunities for conflict, and contributes to the lack of legitimacy inmates afford
JTVCC staff and administration executives. For example, keeping inventories of inmate
property rather than requiring inmates to retain their receipts for years to prove they own
an item, and allowing inmate clothing and towels to be marked in a standardized manner to
prove ownership could help to dispel some conflict and grievances.

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Conclusion
For years, excessive mandated overtime and fatigue; the inconsistent application of policies and
procedures; inconsistent management; and, the lack of communication, adversarial
relationships, and a general lack of respect at all levels of the JTVCC have contributed to poor
correctional officer morale and increasing hostility between inmates and correctional officers.
At the same time, the lack of inmate programming and training and the inconsistent application
of policies has worsened inmate morale, and left them with extensive amounts of idle time in
which to plan disruptive, dangerous, and deadly acts. All of these issues culminated into two
inmate uprisings in two weeks at the JTVCC, the second (the incident that began on February 1,
2017) ended with one sergeant killed and other correctional personnel injured.
Throughout this independent review process, JTVCC staff recounted numerous instances
wherein prison management failed to act to prevent, defuse, or address concerns raised
regarding by correctional staff regarding potentially dangerous inmates and unprofessional
staff. The Independent Review Team also heard complaints from focus groups and individual
interviews with, and letters written by, inmates, advocates, and attorneys. A review of policy
coupled with information gathered from JTVCC staff and inmates, points to procedural
inconsistencies, the use of shaming tactics and verbal and physical abuse at the hands of some
correctional officers, lack of programming and adequate medical care, and an ineffective
grievance system. Left unattended, these issues will continue to provide a fertile ground for
violent incidents in the JTVCC.
The observations and recommendations herein are provided not as an indictment of any
person or institution, but rather, as a learning opportunity by identifying changes to systems
and decision points that promise to improve the JTVCC environment.
Administrators at the JTVCC, the DOC, and the State of Delaware are to be commended for
acknowledging the severity of the incident that began on February 1, 2017 and the
environment in which the incident was able to occur, and taking steps to correct the issues that
directly and indirectly contributed.
There is still much work to be done. We strongly encourage the Delaware DOC to also engage
with other states, such as New York, Maryland, and Virginia, and research innovative
corrections approaches being used in these states and elsewhere. This research can help to
identify evidence-based promising and best practices that are working to improve their
corrections outcomes, and could be tailored to work in Delaware. Continuing to make changes
to enhance the culture at the JTVCC and throughout the DOC facilities will result in a safer, and
more secure environment for staff and inmates. Continuing conversations with the JTVCC staff,
DOC and stakeholders over time will be vital in rebuilding an environment with trust,
procedural justice, and legitimacy that will address critical security issues and facilitate a
process of healing.
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Acronym List
ACA

American Correctional Association

ACLU

American Civil Liberties Union

BOP

Bureau of Prisons

BWC

Body Worn Cameras

CERT

Correctional Emergency Response Team

CIT

Crisis Intervention Training

CLASI

Community Legal Aid Society, Incorporated

COAD

Correctional Officers Association of Delaware

DACS

Delaware Automated Correctional System

DOC

Delaware Department of Correction

DTI

Delaware Department of Technology and Information

JTVCC

James T. Vaughn Correction Center

MHU

Medium-High Housing Unit

OMB

Office of Management and Budget

PREA

Prison Rape Elimination Act

SHU

Security Housing Unit

STG

Security Threat Group

SMI

Seriously Mentally Ill

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Glossary
American Correctional Association (ACA)—A private, nonprofit organization that administers
the only national accreditation program for all components of adult and juvenile correction;
purpose is to promote improvement in the management of correctional agencies through the
administration of a voluntary accreditation program and the ongoing development and revision
of relevant, useful standards. (11-A-06, Statewide Quality Improvement Program).
Classification—Prison classification is a method of assessing inmate risks that balance security
requirements with program needs. Newly admitted inmates are transported from city or county
jails to a prison receiving center where the risk assessment process begins.
Correctional Officer—An officer responsible for the custody, safety, security, and supervision of
inmates in a prison or any other correctional facility.
Contraband—Anything that is not authorized on the grounds of the JTVCC.
Delaware Automated Correctional System (DACS)—A State of Delaware computer system
containing the non-medical offender information concerning sentencing, housing, and
programming.
Detainee—A person held in custody pending trial; not convicted of a crime but does not have
bail or is being held without bail.
Grievance—A written complaint or petition, either informal or formal, by an inmate concerning
an incident, procedure, or condition within an institution, facility or the Department which
affects the inmate complainant personally.
Honor visit—Specialized privilege arranged by a housing unit counselor. Inmates must fulfill
certain criteria to be eligible for an Honor visit. The visit is held outside in a picnic area with the
inmate and his visitors. The visitors are allowed to bring “outside” food to the visit after being
searched to dine with the inmate at the visit.
Muster—Also known as roll call, is a briefing where supervisors take attendance, inspect
uniform and equipment, inform the oncoming shift of any outstanding incidents that may have
occurred, inform officers of inmates or units to observe closely, related any law or procedural
changes, and other similar issues.
Post Orders—Post orders are written documents that clearly outline duties, responsibilities,
and expectations of officers while they are assigned to that post.

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Pre-Hearing Detention (PHD)—Confinement of an offender until an investigation is completed
or a hearing scheduled. Such detention shall not be punitive and should be used only when
necessary to ensure the offender’s safety or the security of the institution.
Recreation—Recreation is time outside of the cell, not showering, or cleaning up; at a minimum
recreation should be one hour three times a week.
Roll Call—A roll call is a briefing where supervisors take attendance, inspect uniform and
equipment, inform the oncoming shift of any outstanding incidents that may have occurred,
inform officers of inmates or units to observe closely, related any law or procedural changes,
and other similar issues.
Shakedown—A thorough search of a prison cell to uncover contraband and excessive property.
Watch Commander—A BOP employee of rank of Lieutenant or higher with supervisory
responsibilities over the entire facility during any shift or tour of duty.

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Appendix A: Full Listing of Recommendations
Recommendation 3.1: Prioritize programs and strategies that facilitate a more positive
culture amongst JTVCC staff and between JTVCC staff and inmates.
Recommendation 3.2: Review and rewrite job descriptions and promotional standards to
reflect the skills and knowledge required to enhance staff behavior and facility culture.
Recommendation 3.3: JTVCC administrators should discontinue the practice of policy
revision/implementation by e-mail or verbal communication.
Recommendation 3.4: The DOC Commissioner should review the practices of masked mass
shakedowns by CERT.
Recommendation 3.5: The DOC Commissioner should assert the primacy of central office over
the facilities.
Recommendation 3.6: Evidence-based programs and trainings should be prioritized for all
levels of leadership at the JTVCC.
Recommendation 4.1: To the extent possible, reduce reliance on mandatory overtime and
limit the number of overtime hours per week for employees at the JTVCC.
Recommendation 4.2: JTVCC administrators should identify evidence-based programs and
practices that address officer safety and wellness in correctional facilities.
Recommendation 4.3: The JTVCC must evaluate its timekeeping practices to ensure they
adhere to state and federal labor laws.
Recommendation 4.4: JTVCC administrators should compel participation in critical incident
debriefings or post-incident counseling not only for those directly involved but also for those
not involved.
Recommendation 4.5: DOC and JTVCC administrators should mandate officer safety and
wellness training for all correctional officers on a regular basis.
Recommendation 5.1: All JTVCC employees should be required to sign a document indicating
that they have read the DOC and the JTVCC Policies and Procedures identified by their
superiors, as soon as possible, and should also be required to sign a copy of each policy or
procedure update.
Recommendation 5.2: Officers assigned to a specific post should be required to sign off on the
post orders upon assuming the post.
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Recommendation 5.3: Policies, procedures, and post orders should continue to be reviewed,
revised, and updated annually.
Recommendation 5.4: Identify, and implement, security level and program classification
systems that are effective and evidence-based.
Recommendation 5.5: JTVCC administrators and leadership should provide documentation
with specific explanations for overriding security level classifications and other security-based
decisions made by staff.
Recommendation 5.6: Establish a Contraband Introduction Unit (CIU) at the JTVCC.
Recommendation 6.1: The Delaware DOC should expedite the implementation of the 16 hours
of “in the seat” training and reduce the number of online training hours.
Recommendation 6.2: Individual DOC facilities should be able to tailor aspects of the annual
in-service training to their specific needs.
Recommendation 6.3: Ensure that training courses prioritize topics and courses that are
essential to operating a 21st Century correctional facility that focuses on rehabilitation.
Recommendation 6.4: Prohibit training from being conducted while on post.
Recommendation 6.5: The JTVCC should expedite the creation of a field training officer (FTO)
program, link it to other leadership development and upward mobility opportunities, and
ensure that qualified applicants are selected.
Recommendation 6.6: Require that all DOC training instructors complete train-the-trainer
courses from an accredited agency such as the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) or the
American Correctional Association (ACA).
Recommendation 7.1: The JTVCC should continue to test communication channels and
immediately address identified issues.
Recommendation 7.2: JTVCC administrators and all levels supervisors should build
relationships and regularly communicate with one another to share promising practices.
Recommendation 7.3: JTVCC administrators and all levels of supervisors should receive
training in communication skills.
Recommendation 7.4: Require employees to enter in, and read, information into DACS at the
beginning and end of each shift.
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Recommendation 8.1: The DOC should prioritize the replacement/upgrade of the
hardware/server infrastructure used to operate DACS, including accounting for addition
Access Points and Active Port costs.
Recommendation 8.2: DOC should authorize additional Correctional Officer Technician
positions for IT support throughout their facilities.
Recommendation 8.3: The State of Delaware should consider the unique technology and
equipment needs of the DOC and specific facilities.
Recommendation 8.4: The JTVCC should purchase equipment, such as cameras, that
contribute to overall inmate, staff, and facility safety and security.
Recommendation 8.5: JTVCC civilian staff should be provided with radios or other devices to
communicate with sworn correctional staff.
Recommendation 9.1: The DOC should conduct an independent assessment of the health care
and mental health care provided at the JTVCC.
Recommendation 9.2: Develop a strategic plan to prioritize the restoration and expansion of
evidence-based programs and job opportunities at the JTVCC.
Recommendation 9.3: Identify creative solutions, including working with JTVCC staff and
counselors, to deliver inmate programming and opportunities.
Recommendation 9.4: Review contracts for behavioral health and substance abuse treatment
programs to identify opportunities for cognitive behavioral interventions to be included in the
delivery of services.
Recommendation 9.5: The JTVCC must develop a system of privileges and incentives to
encourage positive behaviors on the part of inmates.
Recommendation 10.1: JTVCC administrators and leadership should adopt procedural justice
as the guiding principle in their interactions with correctional staff in order to develop
internal legitimacy.
Recommendation 10.2: JTVCC correctional staff should similarly adopt procedural justice as
the guiding principle in their day-to-day interactions with inmates.
Recommendation 10.3: The JTVCC should establish a culture of transparency and
accountability in order to rebuild trust and legitimacy with inmates.

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Recommendation 10.4: The JTVCC grievance processes and procedures should be reviewed
and revised to be more efficient and fairer.

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Appendix B: Methodology
In February 2017, at the request of Governor John Carney and his Executive Order to launch an
independent review into the security of the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC), the
Police Foundation (PF) created an Independent Review Team. The Team, comprised of subject
matter experts in corrections and public safety and critical incident response, developed and
executed a comprehensive methodology to critically review and assess the incident and
circumstances leading up to it in order to develop lessons learned and recommendations for
improvement for the JTVCC, the Delaware Department of Correction, and the State of
Delaware. Sources and types of information included: site visits to the JTVCC to get a sense of
the facility; focus groups of JTVCC correctional officers and inmates and interviews with key
stakeholders to gain perspectives from those involved and affected; document reviews; and
literature and media coverage reviews. The following sections detail the Independent Review
Team’s methods.

On-site data collection
Site Visits
The Independent Review Team conducted three site visits: May 1-5, 2017; May 18-19, 2017;
and, July 17-21, 2017. During the months of May through August, the team interviewed more
than 120 people, individually and in focus groups. Those interviewed included the following: 232
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security
Commissioner, Department of Corrections
Bureau Chief of Prisons, Department of Corrections
Current Warden, JTVCC
Former Warden, JTVCC
Major, Delaware State Police
JTVCC administrators
JTVCC Supervisors
JTVCC Correctional Officers
JTVCC Civilian Staff
JTVCC Contractual Staff
JTVCC Inmates, housed in multiple security levels
Community Leaders/Group Representatives

232

Number includes interviewees who were DOC employees as of February 1, 2017. Some interviewees may have
retired or otherwise left the department by the date of report release.
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Materials collection and review
The Independent Review Team collected and reviewed numerous documents, data, reports,
letters and other materials from the State of Delaware and community members through
materials requests as well as collection of materials while on site. Review of these documents
assisted in identifying findings and recommendations. Materials reviewed included the
following:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Department of Correction and James T. Vaughn Correctional Center policies and procedures
Letters from JTVCC inmates and families of inmates
Video of interviews with JTVCC staff
Use of force reports
Staffing-related assignments, plans, and reports
Training materials
Equipment inventories and plans
Grievance-related logs and documents

Off-site data collection
Literature review
In addition to the information collected while on site, the Independent Review Team collected
and reviewed relevant literature and media to critically assess the events surrounding the
incident that began on February 1, 2017, and related security issues.
Media analysis
The incident that began on February 1, 2017, death of a correctional officer, and subsequent
events at the JTVCC were reported on television, the Internet, and social media. The Team read
articles and reviewed other relevant media postings, websites, and audio.

Analysis
Based on the on- and off-site data collection and analysis, the Independent Review Team
evaluated policies, procedures, practices and technology at the facility and within the JTVCC
and the DOC that likely contributed to the incident that began on February 1, 2017. These and
other related areas of focus were identified and used to develop the foundation for the
observations and recommendations in this report.

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Development of Recommendations
The analysis of key focus areas provided a foundation from which to develop findings and
recommendations for improving security concerns at the JTVCC that can be used by the State of
Delaware to take actions that can help prevent similar incidents in the future.

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Appendix C: About the Team
Appointed Independent Reviewers
The Honorable William L. Chapman, Jr., is currently Chief Talent and Diversity Officer and
Senior Counsel at Potter Anderson & Corroon. Originally from New York City, Judge Chapman
came to Delaware as a Deputy Attorney General for the Delaware Department of Justice after
receiving his A.B. from Brown University in 1983 and graduating from Georgetown University
Law Center in 1986. He has served the State as a Family Court judge for the past twenty years
and has been active in the community through organizations such as The Walnut Street YMCA,
Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Delaware and St. Michael’s School & Nursery.
The Honorable Charles M. Oberly, III, served as United States Attorney for the District of
Delaware from 2010 to 2017 and has served as Attorney General of Delaware from 1983 to
1995. Originally from Delaware, U.S. Attorney Oberly received his B.A. from Pennsylvania State
University in 1968 and his J.D. from University of Virginia School of Law in 1971.

Police Foundation Team
Chief Frank Straub (Ret.), PhD, director, strategic initiatives, provided on-site project
management, coordinating the work of subject matter experts and providing law enforcement
guidance and expertise to the project. He managed the document review process and worked
to ensure that all on- and off-site decisions and activities met project goals. A 30-year veteran
of law enforcement, Dr. Straub currently serves as the Director of Strategic Studies for the
Police Foundation, where he works on Critical Incident Reviews including the San Bernardino
terrorist attack—and the resulting report Bringing Calm to Chaos—and the Orlando Pulse
shooting (in progress). Dr. Straub last served as the Chief of the Spokane (WA) Police
Department. Dr. Straub has also served as the Director of Public Safety for the City of
Indianapolis and as the Public Safety Commissioner for the City of White Plains, New York. Dr.
Straub previously served as the Deputy Commissioner of Training for the New York City Police
Department, and as a federal agent. He holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice, from the City
University of New York’s Graduate Center, an M.A. in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College
of Criminal Justice, and a B.A. in Psychology from St. John’s University. Dr. Straub is a NonResident Fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
Jennifer Zeunik, director, programs, provided overall project structure and oversight. She
worked with project staff in driving toward goals and deliverables and coordinated activity of
on- and off-site staff and subject matter experts. She also served as a writer, editor, and quality
control manager on the preliminary and final reports, ensuring report cohesion and clarity. Ms.
Zeunik has 20 years of public sector and nonprofit program management experience, working
closely with all levels of government. In her career, Ms. Zeunik has provided strategic
management expertise to criminal justice clients focused on justice policy research, business
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development activities, program management, strategic planning, training and technical
assistance management, and development of strategic communications. She served as a lead
writer on numerous published reports throughout her career, including the IACP National Policy
Summit on Community-Police Relations: Advancing a Culture of Cohesion and Trust report as
well as the COPS Office–funded Police Foundation Collaborative Reform Initiative: An
Assessment of the St. Louis County Police Department and the San Bernardino terrorist shooting
critical incident review, Bringing Calm to Chaos.
Roger Werholtz, corrections subject matter expert, provided corrections subject matter
expertise to the project. Mr. Werholtz is the former Interim Executive Director for the Colorado
Department of Corrections, where he oversaw a budget of more than $825 million and a
workforce in excess of 6,000 people. Mr. Werholtz has also served in various senior executive
positions within the Kanas Department of Corrections, including as Secretary of Corrections
from 2002 to 2010. Mr. Werholtz received a M.S.W. with an emphasis in Social Service
Administration, Management, and Evaluation from the University of Kansas, and a B.A. in
English and Theater from Washburn University.
Robert May, corrections subject matter expert, provided corrections subject matter expertise
to the project. Mr. May has more than 40 years of criminal justice and corrections experience,
including 12 years as chief criminal investigator and lieutenant in county and state law
enforcement agencies, at the University of Maryland at Baltimore Police and Washington
County Sheriff’s Department, Maryland. Mr. May currently serves as Assistant Director for
Program and Technology Services at the IJIS Institute. Before joining IJIS, Mr. May held a
number of leadership positions with organizations including the Criminal Justice Institute,
Association of State Correctional Administrators, JBS International, National Treatment
Alternatives for Safer Communities, SocioTechnical Research Applications, and the American
Jail Association. Mr. May has graduate studies from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and
received a B.S. in Behavioral Science with a minor in Criminal Justice from the University of
Maryland, College Park.
Joyce Iwashita, project assistant, provided on- and off-site coordination and general project
support including report writing and editing. She supports projects such as Collaborative
Reform, Critical Incident Reviews, and the Police Data Initiative. Before joining the Police
Foundation, Ms. Iwashita supported the Herbert Scoville Jr., Peace Fellowship, and interned
with the U.S. Senate, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and National Criminal Justice
Association. A Harry S. Truman Scholar, Ms. Iwashita received her B.A. in Economics from Lewis
& Clark College in Portland, Oregon.
Michelle Phillips, project associate, provided on- and off-site project support as well as
document writing, review, and editing. Ms. Phillips received a M.S. in Criminal Justice with a
specialization in Law and Courts from the University of Baltimore and a B.S. degree in Criminal
Justice, with a minor in Applied Psychology, from Coppin State University. Ms. Phillips has
previous work experience as a correctional officer for the Maryland Department of Public
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Safety and Correctional Services. Ms. Phillips has worked on federally funded research projects
to include areas such as public health and safety, community policing, and reentry.
Maria Valdovinos, research associate, provided on- and off-site project support as well as
document writing and editing. Ms. Valdovinos came to the Police Foundation from the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, where she served as a research fellow and provided research,
analytical, and project management support to projects focused on targeted violence on
college campuses and police officer wellness. She has training in both qualitative and
quantitative research methods, an academic background on the social, cultural, and
organizational determinants of health, and project management experience in research on
police organizations and within correctional institutions. At the Foundation, Ms. Valdovinos
works on a portfolio of projects focused on safety, health, and wellness among correctional
personnel and incarcerated persons. Ms. Valdovinos has a B.A. from Northwestern University
and an M.A. from George Mason University, where she is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in
Sociology with a focus on the criminal justice system, corrections, and reentry.
Ben Gorban, policy analyst, provided off-site input project support as well as document writing,
review, and editing. Mr. Gorban is a policy analyst with more than eight years of experience
supporting law enforcement–related projects including the provision of technical assistance
and policy analysis support on projects related to countering violent extremism, community
policing, and the role of social media in law enforcement. Mr. Gorban’s areas of expertise
include research, resource development, and information dissemination. He received his M.S.
in Justice, Law, and Society from American University in 2011 and his BA in both Philosophy and
Justice, Law, and Society from American University in 2009.

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Appendix D: About the Police Foundation
The Police Foundation is a national nonmember, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that has
been providing technical assistance and conducting innovative research on policing for nearly
45 years. The professional staff at the Police Foundation work closely with law enforcement,
community members, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and victim advocates to develop
research, comprehensive reports, policy briefs, model policies, and innovative programs. The
organization’s ability to connect client departments with subject matter expertise, supported
by sound data analysis practices, makes us uniquely positioned to provide critical incident
review, training and technical assistance.
The Police Foundation has been on the forefront of researching and providing guidance on
community policing practices since 1970. Acceptance of constructive change by police and the
community is central to the purpose of the Police Foundation. From its inception, the Police
Foundation has understood that in order to flourish, police innovation requires an atmosphere
of trust; a willingness to experiment and exchange ideas both within and outside the police
structure; and, perhaps most importantly, a recognition of the common stake of the entire
community in better police services.
The Police Foundation prides itself in a number of core competencies that provide the
foundation for critical incident reviews, including a history of conducting rigorous research and
strong data analysis, an Executive Fellows program that provides access to some of the
strongest thought leaders and experienced law enforcement professionals in the field, and
leadership with a history of exemplary technical assistance program management.
Other Police Foundation critical incident reviews include:
•
•
•
•
•

Managing the Response to a Mobile Mass Shooting: A Critical Incident Review of the
Kalamazoo, Michigan, Public Safety Response to the February 20, 2016, Mass Shooting
Incident
Maintaining First Amendment Rights and Public Safety in North Minneapolis: An AfterAction Assessment of the Police Response to the Protests, Demonstrations, and Occupation
of the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct
Bringing Calm to Chaos: A critical incident review of the San Bernardino public safety
response to the December 2, 2015 terrorist shooting incident at the Inland Regional Center
A Heist Gone Bad: A Police Foundation Critical Incident Review of the Stockton Police
Response to the Bank of the West Robbery and Hostage-Taking
Police Under Attack: Southern California Law Enforcement Response the Attacks by
Christopher Dorner

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Appendix E: Inmate Letters from the JTVCC
The Independent Review Team received and reviewed hundreds of letters from current or former JTVCC
inmates, as well as from their relatives, friends and attorneys. They also received and reviewed letters
from groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Delaware Coalition for Prison
Reform and Justice, The Link of Love Support Group, and the NAACP Prison Chapter 2032 on behalf of
JTVCC inmates. The team also interviewed several inmates and held inmate focus groups during site
visits to the JTVCC. The inmates allege mistreatment by correctional officers at the JTVCC, specifically
CERT officers, including physical and verbal abuse, asserting that officers intentionally destroyed their
property and legal papers as a form of retaliation for the February 1st incident. Other letters address
problems with the JTVCC grievance process, contending that the practice and procedure is unfair.
The Independent Review Team believes that it is important that this report give voice to those concerns
as a critical perspective explored for this independent review.
Excerpt from an inmate letter received by the ACLU March 2017; referencing alleged actions by the CERT team at
JTVCC on March 9, 2017.

Excerpt from an inmate letter received by the ACLU March 2017; specifically addressing the classification
decision process.

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Excerpt from an inmate letter received by a Delaware Reverend March 1, 2017; alleging that CERT team
members preform “masked” mass shakedowns.

Excerpt from an inmate letter received by the ACLU March 2017; specifically addressing the alleged
mistreatment of inmates by correctional officers.

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Excerpt from an inmate letter received by the ACLU July 2017; specifically alleging “unjust practices” at the
JTVCC that contributed to the uprising.

Excerpt from an inmate letter received by the ACLU February 2017; alleging unprovoked use of less lethal force
in other housing units, days after the C-Building uprising.

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Excerpt from an inmate letter received by a Delaware Reverend (no date provided); alleging inmate concerns
prior to the February 1st incident went unanswered, ultimately resulting.

Excerpt from an inmate letter received by a Delaware Reverend (no date provided); alleging inmate concerns
prior to the February 1st incident went unanswered, ultimately resulting.

Excerpt from an inmate letter received by a Delaware Reverend March 2017; addressing the fact all correctional
officers do not have “malice in their hearts” and all inmates are not “savages.”

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Excerpt from an inmate letter received by a Delaware Reverend (no date provided); alleging that correctional
officers at the JTVCC are not professional and “lack respect” and allegations of the disciplinary process at the
JTVCC not following regulations.

Excerpt from an inmate letter received by a Delaware Reverend March 2017; alleging that inmates in C-Building
had a peaceful demonstration prior to February 1 st to address some of the allegations of mistreatment of
inmates by staff.

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Excerpt from an inmate letter received by the June 2017; alleging that supervisors do not conduct regular
security rounds in their assigned areas and allegations of abuse and mistreatment from the correctional officers
towards inmates.

In a March 22, 2017 letter, the ACLU urged the Independent Review Team to conduct an
examination of the way in which inmates are treated. The letters addressed issues including
inmate treatment as well as the conditions of JTVCC. The issues ranged from inadequate
clothing, a reduction in programs and jobs, decrease in visits and changes in honor visits to
concerns regarding the grievance process and classification that was “often said to be
inapplicable, to allegations of correctional officers abusing inmates, someone officers went so
far as to not wear name tags to hide their identity.” Representatives of the ACLU believe that
these problems “would be resolved by a well operated prison system, and that their resolution
would result in [a] more humane, safer prison and a reduction in recidivism.”
In addition to receiving letters from inmates, the Coalition for Prison Reform held a Prison
Reform Town Hall and received information from former inmates and family members. Based
on the “barrage of letters” and the information provided to the Coalition at the Town Hall, the
Coalition contends that there is “no question in our mind that mental and physical torture at a
criminal level is taking place in the prison system especially at James T. Vaughn Correctional
Center following the February 1, tragedy.”
It must be noted that in one inmate letter it stated that some officers are “reasonable and
understand” while others are described as “unprofessional, nasty, rude, disrespectful, mean
and abusive.” The letter goes on to say, “We do not want correction[al] officers belittling us,
cursing us or abusing their power, under no circumstance should we be treated as less than
human beings.” While the Independent Review Team is unable to verify alleged instances of
abuse, including the allegations of post-February 1st abuse, there appears sufficient similarity in
the claims as to warrant further investigation by the appropriate state authorities.
It is understood that working in a prison is very stressful and dangerous; however, there are
policies and procedures that should be in place to govern the behaviors of inmates as well as

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officers in order for the facility to be operated in the most safe, secure and humane way
possible.

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Appendix F: State of Delaware Executive Order #2

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Appendix G: Preliminary Report

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