Attempted attack at state prison with staffing shortage

Taking Action

(WRIC) — 8News has learned of an attempted assault on a worker at Augusta Correctional Facility in Craigsville.

The attempted attack comes just days after 8News exposed a severe staffing shortage at the prison.

Multiple sources told 8News earlier this week a counselor at Augusta was in to treat an inmate when he exposed himself and attempted to assault her. 

Fortunately, another inmate saw what was happening and put a stop to it.

“We are going to make sure that we have adequate follow-up on that situation,” says State Senator Emmett Hanger of Augusta. 

He confirms to 8News he was briefed on the incident and has shared what happened with the state’s Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran.

“We are not housing boy scouts there these people have committed crimes in the past, they are very capable of violent actions, so they have to be closely monitored,” says Hanger.

8News sources blame the attempted attack on that lack of staffing. 8News has uncovered corrections officers are being pulled from other prisons and sleeping and showering in cramped trailers a week at a time to cover a critical shortage at Augusta.

“And it did appear there the situation because the supervisory position have been spread thin at those facilities,” says Hanger.

On Tuesday, after first learning of the attempted assault 8News reached out to the Department of Corrections for comment.

DOC spokesperson Lisa Kinney wrote: 

“I appreciate your concern about staff safety. While I can’t speak to the details of yesterday’s incident, I can tell you that there were no staff injuries at Augusta yesterday.”

However, even before this incident, 8News had received an email from a concerned insider warning, “Counselors make building rounds in those housing units without a floor officer… talk about being at risk!”

“There is an under-staffing there or a lack a staffing of sufficient staffing in my opinion,” says Hanger.

He admits the General Assembly hasn’t adequately addressed the low staffing and high turnover at our state prisons.

He believes staffing and starting pay will have to be revisited next session. In the meantime, he thinks efforts to reduce the prison population could help too.

“We have a lot of medical costs mental health issues and I think we can we can kind segment some of that population out of our state corrections facility into other treatment modes,” says Hanger.

The Department Of Corrections adds in the last three year’s there have been no serious assaults on staff at Augusta.These stats were provided to 8News:
•    1 serious assault on staff during FY2016
•    0 serious assaults on staff during FY2017
•    4 serious assaults on staff during FY2018.

Statistics prior to 2015 can be found online here. 

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