Fleck’s ‘Correctional Officers Investigation Procedure Act’ Legislation Passes Unanimously in House, Heads to Senate
HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon/Blair/Mifflin), that would create a “Correctional Officers Investigation Procedure Act” for the more than 12,000 correctional officers employed by Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections (DOC), was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives today. House Bill 976
will now be considered by the Senate.
“House Bill 976 is long overdue,” said Fleck. “Right now, it is simply too easy for an inmate to make an allegation against a correctional officer, who is then placed on leave without pay, putting his life in limbo while the investigation takes place. There is currently nothing in writing that spells out due process in a timely manner. This legislation changes that.”
Fleck’s proposal would provide standards protecting the rights of correctional officers during investigations conducted by DOC. There is no current state law establishing procedures and rights for the interrogation, investigation and discipline of a correctional officer for alleged misconduct. At least 17 other states have enacted similar legislation.
Among other things, the bill would require the following guidelines to be followed during the investigation of a correctional officer by DOC:
||The interrogation must be conducted with 24 hours notice and while the correctional officer is on duty, unless the seriousness of the investigation merits immediate attention.
||No less than 24 hours before the interrogation, the correctional officer under interrogation must be informed, in writing, of the nature of the complaint and provided the name(s) of the complainant.
||If an anonymous or unsworn complaint is made against a correctional officer and no corroborative evidence is obtained within the appropriate statute of limitations, the complaint must be classified as unfounded and expunged from the correctional officer’s personnel file.
||The correctional officer under investigation has the right to be represented by counsel or other representatives. To the extent that the correctional officer is represented for the purposes of collective bargaining, the officer may also have an agent from the exclusive collective bargaining representative present.
||Correctional officers cannot be subjected to or threatened with adverse employment as a result of exercising their rights under this act.
||If the correctional officer is acquitted of the criminal charge(s), he or she must be reinstated and reimbursed for all salary and benefits that had gone unpaid.
Two state prisons are located in Fleck’s district – SCI Huntingdon and SCI Smithfield.
“I get letters on a regular basis from inmates making claims against correctional officers,” said Fleck. “This legislation would assure that correctional officers are afforded due process whenever accusations are made against them by prisoners. Obviously, if someone has done something wrong, they should be held accountable. That is not going to change.”
For more information on Fleck and his legislative priorities, visit RepFleck.com
Representative Mike Fleck
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Andy Briggs