SMYRNA, Del. (CBS) – The Delaware Department of Corrections has announced it will demolish a building at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center after a deadly uprising in 2017.
The February 2017 violent prison standoff claimed the life of Lt. Steven Floyd and injured two correctional officers. A counselor was also kidnapped during the riot. Officials say inmates took control of a building to protest “unfair conditions.”
“It was the worst day of my career in the Delaware Department of Corrections,” said Delaware Department of Corrections Commissioner Perry Phelps.
The attack happened in Block C. That housing section has sat empty but a lot has changed within this perimeter. It’s all outlined in a new report, including 41 detailed recommendations.
Governor John Carney says some of those changes include installing a high definition camera system in the facility and providing more training for correction officers.
Carney says the one remaining major issues at the facility is low staffing levels and low pay for correctional officers who earn a starting yearly salary of $43,000.
It’s no different than McDonald’s. If you can’t get people to get to work, you have to raise your salary,” said Jeff Klopp with the Delaware Correction Officers Assoication.
Klopp says forced overtime is a safety issue, one he doesn’t see changing anytime soon.
“We’ve spent almost $32 million on overtime this year,” said Klopp.
Part of the other recommended changes included changing the culture inside the prison.
CBS3 was allowed to tour it but only take still photos of the improvements.
The warden says the new security system, with hundreds of cameras, keeps both inmates and corrections officers safe and accountable.
A new horticulture program allows inmates to grow their own food.
Prisoners in the culinary arts program have access to a new industrial kitchen.
And there is even an “inmate advisory counsel,” which allows those inside the facility to have open discussion about issues with the warden.
Andre Peters, who’s serving a 23-year robbery sentence, is on that counsel and says these changes mean the “don’t care attitude is out the window.”
Officials say the tearing down of the building will allow the JTVCC staff to continue to move forward.
”Department of Correction officers and supervisors who went to work on February 1, 2017, or assisted in the response, have been reminded on a daily basis of the horrifying actions that happened on that day,” said Gov. Carney in a statement. “The building is a constant reminder of the senseless, brutal murder of one of one of DOC’s dedicated public servants – Lieutenant Floyd. To remove the building from the complex will aid in mental and emotional health of officers who work at JTVCC every day. It’s the right thing to do.”
Eighteen inmates were charged in connection to the uprising.
The DOC says they expect to start demolition this fall.