Prisoner killed at Hazelton, second death this year

HAZELTON — A prisoner at USP Hazelton was killed Monday.

The U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed the death of Demario Porter, 27, on Tuesday afternoon.

Porter died following an altercation with another inmate. He had to be transported to a local hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries and died at the hospital. He had just arrived at the USP Hazelton Sept. 6 for a 26-month sentence following a parole violation.

One other inmate was treated for injuries. There were no staff injuries. The other inmate involved in the altercation has not been identified.

The president of Local 420 of the Federation of Government Employees, Richard Heldreth, said the death, the second this year, again spotlights the issues of staffing at the facility.

“Our staffing complement for the complex was lowered from 880 to 796 staff, of which only 735 positions are currently filled,” Heldreth said in an email. “Even under these new, lower staffing guidelines, the Correctional Services department, which includes the Correctional Officers has 34 vacant positions, and the Health Services department that provides emergency medical care for the inmates is operating at just over 75 percent staffing.”

The Bureau of Prisons has been relying on augmentation, which is the practice of using prison employees who are not correctional officers as correctional officers.

As previously reported, the Bureau said that it is eliminating several thousand vacant positions to “right size” the system.

In a statement Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said, “This is the second homicide at Hazelton Federal Correctional Center in five months. Earlier this year, the omnibus included my increased FY 2018 funding of $100 million for the Bureau of Prisons and directed them to hire more full-time staff and curtail their over-reliance on augmentation. I’ve pressed the Bureau of Prisons and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to follow the law and act on this dangerous situation. They have done nothing. The lack of action on the part of the Bureau of Prisons is unacceptable.”

Congressman David McKinley, R-W.Va., expressed his concerns in April for staffing at Hazelton.

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