DOC orders immediate lockdown of all state prisons

Staff Writer

Harrisburg — On Wednesday afternoon, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel announced the immediate lockdown of all state correctional institutions because of reports of multiple staff members sickened by unknown substances over the past few weeks.

“The safety and security of our employees is my number one concern,” Secretary Wetzel said. “Our state prisons, especially those in the western part of the state, have experienced recent incidents in which employees have been sickened, and we need to get to the bottom of this issue now.”

Wetzel announced the following steps, effective immediately and indefinitely:

• All DOC state prisons are locked down.

• All DOC mailrooms are closed to non-legal mail until further notice.

• Use of personal protective equipment, especially gloves, is mandatory for all employees.

• Training on situational awareness will be held immediately in all institutions.

• All visits are suspended for the length of the lock down.

Staff also are being advised to use extra caution when parole violators and new commits are received into the prison system.

"This state prison system is not alone in its battle against illegal substances and employee/inmate sickness. It was reported just today that 20 correction officers and inmates at Ross Correctional Institution (Ohio) experienced possible opioid overdose symptoms as well," a release said.

“We will do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of our staff,” Wetzel said. “The state’s Opioid Command Center is giving complete support to this action. And Corrections thanks all state agencies for their support, especially the Pennsylvania Department of Health, for providing additional gloves and personal protective equipment.”

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