Auditor General Wants Better Oversight of Training at Department of Corrections

Says Procedural Failures Could Place Inmates, Guards, Staff at Risk

HARRISBURG — Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said that the Department of Corrections must do a better job assuring its prison employees are properly trained.

A performance audit covering July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012 found that the DOC failed to monitor and review which employees received training and did not complete the required training reports. The training is required by department policy and to satisfy American Correctional Association standards.

“Without verification, it is difficult to know if employees are adequately trained, resulting in potentially unsafe work conditions,” DePasquale said. “The lack of proper training and record-keeping also creates the potential for serious civil rights violations of inmates and costly lawsuits.

“Workers in the Department of Corrections are required to have extensive training. Based on our review, it is difficult to know if all our correctional facilities are being run by properly trained personnel. That’s troubling and needs to be addressed,” DePasquale said.

The DOC operates 26 State Correctional Institutions, one motivational boot camp, one training academy and 14 community pre-release centers throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It also oversees 39 contracted facilities as part of the community correction program. During the audit period, the department employed 8,995 security staff and 5,408 other staff.

During the three-year audit span, an estimated 3,364 new corrections employees received basic training at the DOC’s training academy in Lancaster County.

The audit determined:

·        Neither the DOC nor the training academy had an automated system to electronically monitor department-wide employee training. The Corrections’ Learning Environment system was never fully functional and did not provide training reports or accurately record employee training.

·        The academy failed to monitor and review 945 employee training records at the DOC’s central office, training academy and 14 DOC-operated community corrections centers, which represents just 6.6 percent of the DOC’s workforce.

·        Only five of the 14 audited facilities met a required 90-percent employee completion rate. The State Correctional Institution in Graterford, Montgomery County, did not meet any of the required training courses. SCI-Rockview, Centre County, and SCI-Pittsburgh,  Allegheny County, had only 15 and 20 percent completion rates.

·        The training academy staff failed to complete more than half the required training courses.

·        The State Correctional Institutions in Camp Hill, Chester, Waymart, Pine Grove and Albion reported that all training requirements were met.

“Based on records provided during the audit, it appears that some DOC employees may not have attended any required training courses. That has the potential to create an unsafe environment for inmates and staff,” DePasquale said.

This summer, a clerk typist was brutally assaulted at SCI-Rockview while working with inmates. An examination of training records could lead to better safeguards by determining if employees have the proper training to be assigned to higher-risk jobs or keeping ill-trained employees isolated from inmate populations.

DOC officials agreed with the audit findings and plan to address the recommendations to make needed changes and improvements.

A full copy of the Department of Corrections Training Academy audit is online at: www.auditorgen.state.pa.us/Reports/StateOwned.html.

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