Council on Correction now a priority for governor’s review

Gov. John Carney

DOVER — The Council on Correction, an advisory group established by state code, failed to muster a quorum at its public meeting on Monday.

The meeting was to be its first since the Feb. 1 inmate uprising at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna left Lt. Steven Floyd dead.

According to state code, the Governor-appointed seven member council serves in an advisory capacity to the Commissioner of Correction and “shall consider matters relating to the development and progress of the correctional system.”

The code also states that the council is responsible for considering “matters as may be referred to it by the Governor, the commissioner and the Chief of the Bureau of Adult Correction.”

Gov. Carney’s spokesman Jonathan Starkey noted that the council is now a priority for the governor’s review.

“Gov. Carney believes that the Council on Correction can serve an important advisory role,” he said. “As a general matter, the governor is reviewing all of Delaware’s boards and commissions, and making appropriate appointments. The Council on Correction is at the top of that list.”

Since the Feb. 1 incident, related Delaware State Police and DOC Internal Affairs investigations have been ongoing. Gov. Carney had previously said an independent review by former judges Henry duPont Ridgely and William L. Chapman Jr. would begin once the police investigation concluded, but on March 13 he decided to have it run co-currently because “the duration of the criminal investigation and the sense of urgency surrounding this issue.”

Per Delaware code, the Council on Correction also has the ability to “study, research, plan and advise the several chiefs, the commissioner and the Governor on matters it deems appropriate to enable the department to function in the best manner” and must meet a minimum of six times annually.

DOC Commissioner Perry Phelps, who replaced outgoing Commissioner Rob Coupe on Jan. 16, has yet to hear from the council.

“Because Commissioner Phelps is newly appointed, he has not had the opportunity to be advised by the council,” said DOC spokeswoman Jayme Gravell.

The council members serve without compensation, but can be reimbursed for “reasonable and necessary” expenses related to their duties on the council.

“The council serves on a volunteer basis and are responsible for creating an agenda, composing meeting minutes and scheduling meetings,” said Ms. Gravell. “The DOC does not employ council members or control the content of the meetings.”

According to the council’s posted agenda, even if they did meet on Monday, they’d have had little to discuss. There were no entires under old business and only one under new business — the establishment of their 2017 meeting calendar.

The council’s agenda for its meeting next month, posted on Wednesday, suggests that it plans a review of itself alongside Gov. Carney’s. Three items now appear under new business:

• Calendar dates for 2017

• Discussion regarding the responsibility of the council and its members according to title 29

• Discussion on the future of the council

The council’s next meeting — open to the public — has been set for May 9 at 4 p.m. at the DOC Administrative Building on 245 McKee Road in Dover.

According to DOC officials, the seven members of the Council on Correction are:

• Roger M. Levy, Esq.

• Melissa Dill

• Jane Hovington

• Elder Tyrone Johnson

• Joseph Paesani

• Edwin Perez

• Richard Senato

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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