HARRISBURG – Legislation to protect the rights of state corrections officers was unanimously approved by the Senate Labor and Industry Committee today, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator David G. Argall (R-29).
Senate Bill 476, the Corrections Officers Bill of Rights, would provide standards to protect the rights of state correctional officers during certain investigations by the Department of Corrections. The measure includes provisions guaranteeing prompt notification and investigation of complaints.
Argall emphasized that the bill would ensure a timely and fair process for resolving complaints and disciplinary proceedings so corrections officers are not unfairly punished based on false or unfounded complaints.
“Our justice system is based on the principle that all individuals are innocent until proven guilty,” said Argall, whose district includes two state correctional facilities. “The least we can do for our corrections officers in ensure they are provided the same kind of consideration as the offenders they supervise.”
Argall introduced the bill in response to recent allegations of abuse at SCI Pittsburgh. Eight corrections officers were suspended without pay and benefits for almost a year without being given the opportunity for a hearing to ask questions related to why they were suspended or to defend themselves.
Senate Bill 476 was sent to the full Senate for consideration.