Union Officials Call for Enhanced Safety Procedures in MD Prisons

Union Officials Call for Enhanced Safety Procedures in MD Prisons

September 8th, 2018


Katie Moy-Santos, [email protected]

Communications Director, 410.350.9756

Cumberland, MD – Yesterday, 2 workers at the Western Correctional Institution, were sent to the hospital after being potentially exposed to a letter soaked in an unknown substance. In response, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) locked down the facility for 3 hours. 

Throughout August, facilities in Pennsylvania and Ohio have been exposed to airborne fentanyl sending dozens to seek medical treatment and, in extreme cases, forcing the use of Naloxone to mitigate the effects. In response, other states have changed mail processing procedures, put their facilities on full lockdowns and implemented a variety of other safety measures. 

“The Department has not done enough to keep Officers and staff safe. We are very concerned, especially for our mailroom and administration employees, that without enhanced screening Maryland facilities could face a serious outbreak,” said AFSCME Local 898 President Jeff Grabenstein.

In response to the recent increase in potential drug exposures, DPSCS suspended visits for one day in the middle of the week. In response to the incident at WCI, the facility was locked down for less than 4 hours. WCI, in particular, is severely understaffed with many officers reporting mandatory overtime on a daily basis and regular violent incidents between inmates. Officers and staff are already working at dangerously low staffing levels.

“We can’t count on this administration to do what’s right for Officers. We need to lockdown these facilities, receive training on how to deal with a potential drug outbreak and improve our mail screening procedures. I am in no way surprised that the Department has failed to act in the best interest of staff and Officers and put our safety first,” said AFSCME Local 898 President Jeff Grabenstein. 

AFSCME Local 898 is continuing to fight for enhanced safety procedures at all MD Correctional Institutions. AFSCME is preparing for labor management negotiations with DPSCS on Wednesday, September 12th, and calling for action immediately to enhance safety procedures.


AFSCME Maryland is the state’s largest and fastest-growing union for public service employees. We make Maryland happen.