Warden: Jail policy update needed

June 19, 2013
Exterior of Washington County Correctional Facility - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Less than two weeks after Washington police exonerated Washington County jail employees of wrongdoing, Warden John Temas proposed the jail update its internal affairs policy and train workers in its use.

Washington County Prison Board convened Wednesday for the first time since information became public about possible instances of a female inmate exposing herself to employees within the facility.

According to a police report released June 7, corrections officers conducted a search in the cell of a female inmate and found sexually explicit material that seemed to be aimed at a worker. Notes, which read “You owe me,” suggested that staff members might have engaged in unlawful activity.

Police interviewed three corrections officers, whom they did not identify. They denied having any physical contact or inappropriate communication with the 19-year-old inmate, who is awaiting trial on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.

However, the officers admitted they had witnessed the prisoner “perform” for numerous officers and that she had “flashed” staff members.

Officers interviewed by the investigators said the prisoner’s “sexual exploits” were well known by staff members and often done in full view of security cameras. One officer said he had requested female nursing staff members to intervene to help stop the inmate’s actions.

Temas on Wednesday proposed hiring CSI Corporate Security and Investigation of Monaca, Beaver County, to develop a new internal affairs policy and teach crime scene investigation and risk management to jail personnel. He also asked for the prison board’s permission to write a Washington County jail code of ethics for all employees, both full time and part time.

Because of the time it would take for the consultant to research and develop the policy and train employees, Temas estimated the cost of the project at $8,500.

“I believe it will cut costs in the long run,” Temas told the board.

CEO and founder of CSI is Louis W. Gentile, who formerly worked in law enforcement.

County Commission Chairman Larry Maggi, who also is chairman of the prison board, said without an internal affairs policy at the jail, investigations turned over to city police “make it look like you’ve done something wrong.” Maggi, a former state trooper and county sheriff, said administrators at the facility still would be required to summon police to investigate if it appears that a crime has been committed in the jail.

City police, in their recent report, wrote that the inmate and corrections personnel they interviewed denied any sexual acts were performed. One officer said he would “ignore her,” because “if no one paid attention to her she would quit.”

Maggi said he and other prison board members receive complaints daily from inmates or their family members claiming mistreatment.

“The majority of the incidents here are internal policy issues, and that’s not a role for police,” Maggi said after the prison board meeting. “It frees the police up to do more important things. We had no reason to think there was a crime committed.”

Maggi called the incident involving the female inmate’s contact with the three staffers in question one of “inference” and innuendo, but not nudity.

“It was reviewed by the warden, and he determined there were no policy or procedure violations,” Maggi said.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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