Inmate in prison uprising transferred in from out-of-state

DOVER — An Arizona convict, who had a history of prison rules violations, was among the inmates in Building C during the siege at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center last month.

The transferred inmate is one of 20 out-of-state offenders who have been relocated to Delaware prisons under the Interstate Corrections Contract.

No charges have been filed against any of the inmates following the Feb. 1-2 hostage situation and homicide of correctional officer Lt. Steven Floyd.

Department of Safety and Homeland Security Secretary Robert Coupe said the day the uprising was quelled that all the inmates present in C Building would be treated as suspects. State Police officials said a criminal investigation is still under way.

Contact with the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC), an examination of several Delaware DOC incident reports, Vinelink searches (Delaware’s offender locater platform) and an inmate letter received by attorney Stephen Hampton suggest that the inmate transferred from Arizona was among the C Building population at the time of the uprising.

The ADC confirmed it held this particular inmate until he was transferred on May 10, 2011. For security purposes, officials declined to offer an explanation for the transfer.

The inmate’s record with the ADC contains 32 disciplinary infractions — among them, conspiracy, possession of manufactured weapons and contraband, rioting, assault and staff obstruction.

According to ADC records, the inmate had been serving a life sentence since 1996 for second-degree murder, aggravated assault and participation in a criminal street gang before being transferred.

Mr. Hampton, who’s been investigating inmate grievances related to the uprising, says he received a letter from the inmate that states he was in C Building during the incident.

DOC spokeswoman Jayme Gravell noted that past disciplinary records of transferred inmates are “essential” for the purpose of appropriate placement in Delaware’s facilities.

“The disciplinary history of all offenders is considered during the classification module utilized by our agency,” she said.

DOC officials have noted that C Building is a unit that houses around 100 inmates in transition from medium to maximum security or vice versa.

Interstate contract policy

The rationale for relocating an inmate to a different state is to ensure the safety of the offender, to maintain public safety or, occasionally, at the offenders request in instances where they may not be a resident of the state they’re currently housed in, explained Ms. Gravell.

As of this month, Delaware has an agreement with 27 other US states that allows them to swap inmates, according to data provided by the Delaware DOC. The inmate exchange agreement is referred to as an Interstate Corrections Contract.

“We can transfer inmates to another state per the level five Interstate Corrections Contract, which is a contract between two different states,” said Ms. Gravell.

The DOC also has the ability to transfer an offender’s probation to another state through the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision.

Currently, the state has 25 Delaware-sentenced offenders housed out of state and 20 offenders from out of state housed in Delaware via the agreement, said Ms. Gravell.

Although the state receiving the inmate absorbs the costs of housing them, the state in which the inmate was sentenced is responsible for medical fees deemed “extraordinary,” noted Ms. Gravell. Inmate exchanges are not always a one for one trade.

Although the specific destination and origin states are classified, some instances are well known. Earl Bradley, the former Lewes pediatrician sentenced to 14 life terms for raping more than 100 young patients, was moved out of state in 2016.

Originally housed at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, DOC officials at the time said that Bradley was being moved out of state because “the overall impact this offender has had on the victims and local Delawareans, some of whom work in or are housed in our correctional facilities.”

Gov. John Carney’s office spokesman Jonathan Starkey noted that the governor has appointed Justice Henry Ridgely and Judge William Chapman to lead an independent review of the hostage incident and its causes once the criminal investigation has concluded.

“Gov. Carney will take seriously any recommendations from Justice Ridgely and Judge Chapman, including any recommendations that may be related to the interstate compact agreement,” said Mr. Starkey. “He is committed to addressing safety and security risks inside Vaughn.”

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