Letter To The Editor From ECI Employee

July 17, 2018

To the News Media,

My name, for purposes of this letter to protect my identity,  is Officer Bernie Lomax, Correctional Officer II, at ECI. I am 55 years old and have approximately 6 years tenure at ECI. Early this past week a union steward passed out a paper that had the names and numbers to our local delegates and Senators that represent the Somerset, Worcester, and Wicomico Counties. I have taken the initiative to call each and everyone on the list, again, to update the ongoing problems and issues at ECI. I sent emails to the delegates before, with little response, so I am sending this as an update to the quickly deteriorating conditions at ECI.

First, let me start by saying that the overtime and draft situation is at a dangerous level, caused directly by the 150+ shortage of officers at ECI. The Supervision,( i.e.: Lieutenants, Captains, Majors) have all said that they have “Never seen it this bad at ECI” over the course of the 25-30 years they have worked here in regards to officer shortage, overtime and drafts. When drafted we are forced to work the next shift after working our shift, and most of the time, we find out minutes before our shift is over, and sometimes as we are about to punch out at the time clock. Many times we have to work our next regular shift as well, which means we are getting less than 7 hrs of sleep between a double shift and the next shift. That wouldn’t be too bad if it only happened once a month, but it is happening every other week.

There is no Morale; we basically are forced to work at least 1 of our 3 day weekend days, as well as 1 or 2 of our 4 week days off. Lately, there have been some officers that have been drafted and pre-drafted as many as 2 times in a 7 day period. At this point we can’t even make plans with family and friends because we never know when we are going to be drafted. On top of that, we are forced to work training days where we have NO training, and we get NO pay for those days either. They say we are being compensated for those days, but that compensation never shows up on our paycheck. Tell me of any person who doesn’t mind working 6 days with No pay. I do not know of any CO at ECI who is not exhausted, both physically and mentally. This is Unacceptable.

We desperately need to HIRE more CO’s, but to date, since mid 2016, there have only been a handful of candidates hired at ECI to replace the 18 officers lost with the indictments, as well as those who have quit, retired, or passed away. Again, at ECI alone, we are understaffed by more than 150 people. Why?

One of the causes that we, as officers, are hearing that DPSCS is having hiring new officers is the use of a polygraph test. We are told that each applicant is tested anywhere between 4-7 hours. Why? That really seems excessive, we are correctional officers not FBI/CIA officers. We understand that we need trustworthy CO’s, especially since the indictments, but the polygraph has a 98% failure rate. That is unacceptable. Perhaps the Questions and Results need to be replaced with more relevant items? There are other variables involved with the hiring process that also take a very long time. It took over 1 year from the time I put in my application to finishing my training before I finally started work. I know other candidates took up to 2 years.

Safety and Security MUST come first at ECI. We can no longer afford to “gamble” with our lives within the fences at ECI. Inmates watch and listen to every little thing, believe me, they know what’s going on, most of the time before the CO’s do. They are very angry about being on lock down and having their privileges taken away. That may not seem like an important issue to most people, but their anger has to go somewhere, and that means the officers.  The “Peaceful Protest” that happened in June was not peaceful. Several inmates had containers of boiling liquids ready to throw on the nearest CO. The only reason the situation did not escalate is because our Tactical Unit came in with shotguns and canines. I can’t help but think about what happened in the Delaware prison, knowing that it is only a matter of time before an officer at ECI will be severely injured, if not killed, trying to protect the public, fellow officers, and yes, inmates as well.

In closing, our officers, are tired, short-tempered, and frustrated with little hope in site. Many are moving on to other avenues of work, however, many of us wish to continue our career here, but we NEED your help.  Please take time from your busy schedules to get to the truth as to what is happening. It is not just ECI; other facilities throughout Maryland are having problems as well. Only from our elected officials can we get some relief. It has become very apparent that the upper management of DPSCS does not care about the people below them. They only care about the money they are saving by forcing us to work like dogs. Bottom line, as humans, we can run a marathon for a day or so, but not each and every day for months and years.

Thank You in advance for all that you do and for any help you can provide in our time of need.

Bernie Lomax

Correctional Officer II

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31 thoughts on “Letter To The Editor From ECI Employee

  1. I’m pretty sure Bernie will be looking for a job soon. They seem to find a way to fuck with people who buck the system. I remember what they did to that city employee who spoke out at a city council meeting.

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    1. Just a thought, why don’t you apply, put on the uniform, and walk those tiers every day. Then you can suffer the lack of seeing your family, the mandatory overtime, the mental and physical exhaustion, and the fear of what could possibly happen. Then see how YOU feel! Unless you couldn’t handle it….. if that’s the case take your snarky comments elsewhere.

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      1. I have in the Maryland House of Corrections (Cut) for a lot less. Your wining is making you guys lose citizen support and making you guys look like pussies!

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      2. Hey MK go fuck your self hard! You probably run to some place safe when a 10/10 or signal 13 happens. So in closing I sincerely ask you to shove your head up your ass. I have no problem letting you know who I am. Love and kisses sugar plum. Brent Conner(retired)

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    1. The shortage needs to be fixed before something terrible happens. The mentality should not be “find another job” it should be “how can we come together and fix this situation for our loved ones”!

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  2. I work for a lot less, with no benefits and have worked 12 -16 hours for 15 to 18 days straight with only one day off to repeat. I could sympathize, but you make good money, have benefits and a twenty year retirement. You work in a much safer prison today, then those who worked 25 or 30 years ago (penitentiary or cut) . You have some legitimate concerns, but you have what many would love to have in a job today. Suck it up and continue to hold your union accountable and write your elected officals. Good luck!

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  3. Yes. What’s being said is true. Sort of. As of right now, there is no TRAINING DEPT. they have it COLLAPSED AND THEY HAVE THE 2 Officers working posts. How’s this. THEY( zingy) the trinket and his henchmen say it’s the polygraph test. Hey trinkets answer this. Maintenance dept. Food service. And supply personnel do not I repeat do not have to pass a polygraph test, yet they are working inside the prison and with inmates under their supervision. Now the FOXY has let them work OT as custody and without them being placed on the draft list. Holy crap. Really. Who is CO Llapsed that one in every unit and some on escort. If they try to fully staff everything, they can’t. Today they had 250+hrs in OT just in the 8 hr period. 4 pre drafts West 1 pre draft east and then they still ended up drafting from the 11-7 shift to fill positions that were told to leave around 11-12 and test everything was wide open. Hey news ppl. What about the inmate that killed himself or the inmate that had his eye cut out all while them being on lockdown status. Hahah. Fuck you. We are going to die behind the walls. Either from an inmate or from a heart attack. Send in the NATIONAL GUARD.

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  4. I don’t know much at all about the situation, other than it’s very scarey. Great letter, guy!!!! Praying for all concerned.

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  5. This is why this jail should not have been built here in the first place. No qualified people for this type of work. No skills low intelligent people with a clean record. Hard to find here.i

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  6. Unfortunately, something like what happened in the Delaware prison could happen, THEN more attention will be brought to the staffing crisis-DPSCS is actively recruiting, even offering $5,000 bonus…but, as one writer said, the polygraph seems to be a problem for many to pass-but do you lower your standards and risk corruption? The jail in Baltimore had been run by inmates and corrupt guards before all the arrests there–gang members were impregnating female guards, drugs everywhere-there are enough issues at ECI that to potentially invite more activities from corruption cannot be an option. To the people who casually say “so quit and get another job”…could YOU just quit your current job? The guards have families to support, mortgages to pay..it isn’t as simple as “walk away”…this is a serious problem…unfortunately, the trends are more of the “touchy-feely” variety as shown by the Justice Reinvestment Act…a total piece of garbage legislation that is putting the citizens of Maryland at risk. JT, you should do a piece on JRA…talk to the people in the trenches about it–nobody likes it, except defense attorneys and criminals.

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  7. You have a job and ur complaining. I pik up cans off side of road lucky make 2.50 a day maybe get pack hotdogs for dinner.

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    1. @7:52 For the first time EVER in our country, there are more jobs available than job seekers…I would imagine you could find something other than “can pick up” if you looked–there are enough agencies that help with employment, including FREE help from State of Maryland, the Wicomico Library has a FREE job service center…

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  8. I would suggest they put a dog on every floor of each housing unit and let them use them. If you can’t hire CO’s use the dogs . How would you like being on a tier with that many inmates without a gun or anyway to protect yourself? Remember these guys did not get there by missing Sunday School. They are bad ass criminals that don’t care………they are already behind bars! I work there and can tell you the CO’s do a good job. And……….I’m still not understanding what the polygraph accompolishes since all the ones there most likely took it also and still came up with dirty officers. However, please don’t judge all of them by those that were dirty and fired!

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    1. Sad part is the polygraph is relatively new, those who have been there 10 or more years didn’t take one. Wonder how many would have passed?

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      1. Agree

        The Polygraph is an unproven science , and cannot be used in a Court of Law.

        You have a retired Maryland State Police Roman god who is doing this test to new hires

        Gov. Hogan needs to fire this asshole Roman Trooper god;
        I bet your ass, his ass was complained about by other citizens when he was a State Police Trooper…..now he is taking his frustrations out on other human beings who are trying to enter corrections as a career.

        If you have NOT been convicted of a crime in a court of law, and can pass the the piss test
        You should be hired to work in DOC

        I retired as a Lieutenant from ECI; transferring from the Jessup region in 1987 to open up ECI ‘s three compounds

        May no mistake, it takes a unique person, to leave their real self at home, put on that uniform, stand in chow hall at ECI in 100 degree heat in the dinning room *** to watch hundreds of inmates eating daily…, Or work a housing unit with those heat conditions.

        Corrections is a great job, a unique opportunity to serve the citizens of Maryland , and improve your self, and maybe reflect some good on an inmate to keep the dumb fucker from returning to jail.

        I respect you men and women @ ECI , and wish you safety in pursuing a job that others cannot understand or who are afraid to work in……..Write your senators for more help…..the unions hands are tied too.

        Hoorah, Retired Lieutenant Bob

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  9. You have to pass a polygraph to be a police officer, but CO don’t want to be held to the same standard, just want the same pay as MSP?

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    1. You got that backwards bud. They EXPECT those at ECI to be held to the same standards as MSP but without the same benefits, pay, etc. For the amount of trouble you go through to get a job at ECI, you might as well just join MSP.

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    2. your inane response contradicts itself… Corrections Officers are NOT police, do not get paid NEAR what police get paid, will receive HALF of what police will retire with and have shouldered the burden of the state with 2% pay REDUCTIONS since Hogan came along. could you ‘retire’ on a third of your income? On top of this, the great benefits they may have been promised while working for the state can and are being taken away at a whim by the legislature. no relief, little pay, a pittance of a retirement and very dangerous conditions inside. Not a fun game to play.

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  10. Welcome to AMERICA LAND OF THE DIRT BAGS and the ACLU and other bleeding liberals who want no jails and everyone goes free.

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  11. WOW. SOOOOO many professional shrinks here. Find another JOB. Really?? At 50 years of age?? FREAKING DELUSIONAL ASSHOLES. Never run your mouth until you walk in a man’s shoes. So easy to find a job. WHERE?? More jobs out there than workers. WHERE?? FUCKING RETARDS!!! TYPICAL Salisbury. Go back to ALBUTTO with your ASININE assessments. Armchair badass POS. When I was working at ECU I didn’t even have a badge. Do you know why?? You NEVER WORKED there.

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