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Jan 10, 2010
Male user pasgt 1 post

Topic: Letter of The Law / Trying to find a politician to latch onto an idea, any suggestions???

I work at a private prison in PA. Below I’ve copied a letter I sent out to both the local state rep, as well as the state senator for the area where the prison is located. Both the senator and the rep never responded (its been about 5 weeks since sent). Anyone else ever tried to generate interest in anything like this? Any suggestions on what to try next, or am I just beating a dead horse with this?
_______________________________________________________________________

Senator Erickson & Representative Killion,

I am writing to you in hopes of bringing a situation to your attention that I believe is worth some investigation by lawmakers such as yourself, and like people who may be able to bring about a change in the states laws and statutes through amendments as they apply to the employees of privatized prisons within the state. I have removed the name of the prison and myself just not to ruffle any feathes if the wrong people were to read this and take offense to me making a try at an amendment that would cost the company money. I currently serve as a XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX on housing unit at the xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. As you are most likely already aware this is one of Pennsylvania’s handful of privately run prisons, and the only xxxxxxxx prison which is privately operated in the state. Prior to my employment with xxxxxxxxxxxx, I served four years with the xxxxxxxx County Prison a local county run prison, and hence am familiar with the operations of both private, as well as government run facilities. The act that I am concerned with was put into action in 1935. This was a time well before the private prison industry flourished as it does now, and hence no concessions were made to ensure the same protections for private prison employees as are provided for county, and state run prison employees in Pennsylvania. I personally have seen numerous statistics showing the huge cost savings to local government, along with improved conditions within private prisons vs. the cost, and conditions at county, and state facilities. Because of this fact, it is not surprising to see that some studies show as high as 30% of the prison population in the southern US are incarcerated within privately-run facilities. Bearing this in mind, it seems only natural that this move toward private prisons will continue, and they will continue to become a large part of the penal system here in Pennsylvania as well, which makes it essential that this be addressed before it becomes an even larger issue as private prison numbers continue to expand throughout the state. The act of concern to me is the Enforcement Officer Disability Benefits Law (AKA: Heart and Lung Act) Act. Of 1935 P.L. 477, No. 193. This act ensures that police, corrections officers, LCB agents, probation & parole agents etc., continue to receive their full salary, and benefits when injured and temporarily unable to perform their job duties. This law has prevented countless law enforcement officers from personal financial collapse after an injury since being enacted in 1935. Unfortunately while this act has been amended over the years to include medical, trades, and culinary workers in prisons, this law has never been amended to include private prison employees. I can only speak firsthand for the danger correctional officers face on a daily basis. We are dealing with a population of incarcerated individuals whom a lot of the time have “nothing to lose” as they are facing multiple years in prison, or even multiple life sentences and hence wouldn’t think twice about risking injury to an officer if they thought it would be in any way advantageous to them. Dealing with a population of several thousand people who have been deemed by Pennsylvania’s legal system to be too dangerous to be on the streets with the rest of the states population is our business. We all accept the risks associated with this when we choose to work within the walls of a prison, but I think it is a travesty to think that a corrections officer who gets “shanked(stabbed)” at my prison could face financial turmoil, and be forced to come back to work before they are physically able to because they are only receiving a small portion of their salary through workers compensation. Whereas if this same situation happened 10 miles down the road at either SCI-xxxxx, or even xxxxx County Prison the officer whom was assaulted by an inmate, or simply injured in any manner performing their job and unable to work would have no issues, and the Heart and Lung Act would ensure he/she got their full salary until they were fully recovered and able to return to work. Thousands of injuries are sustained by state, and county corrections officers across the state every year in performing their duties, and countless numbers of officers take advantage of the Heart and Lung Act to help them financially while injured. I think it would only be reasonable to assume corrections officers working in private prisons should be afforded these same benefits through an amendment to the act, so that they too can know that if someday they are unfortunate enough to be injured in the line of duty, they will not have to worry about how they will, “make ends meet” outside of work. I am asking your help in addressing this issue as you are the local Representative and Senator in the area where the xxxxxxxxxxx Prison is located, and hence a large number of your constituents work within the confines of privately run xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Correctional Facility. I trust you will review the information I have provided and do anything within your power to help change this unfortunate double standard within Pennsylvania’s prisons. Should you have any suggestions of anyone else I should contact to further this cause please just let me know, and I will address them as well. I thank you in advance for you time



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