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2 prison workers quit amid inquiry
Women's conduct toward inmate probed
Saturday, June 17, 2006
BY JACK SHERZER
Of The Patriot-News
Two female corrections officers at Dauphin County Prison in Swatara Twp. are being investigated for improper sexual contact with a male inmate, officials said.

The two women were allowed to resign on Monday and might face charges, said county commission Chairman Jeff Haste, who oversees the prison.

Haste said yesterday that other officers at the prison had suspicions that something improper was occurring and that county detectives launched an investigation, capturing some of the activity on video.

County officials were withholding the names of the corrections officers, who worked the night shift, because of the ongoing investigation. The women could face charges of institutional sexual assault, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine, officials said.

"Anytime we hear of inappropriate activity, we work closely with the [county detectives] and district attorney," Haste said. "Anytime we can prosecute, we do.

"I think as a whole we have a very good, dedicated work force," Haste said. "There are always a few bad apples, and we don't want the bad apples out there."

Haste said it appears that only one of the corrections officers was involved in inappropriate touching -- done with clothes on -- and that the other officer covered for her.

At least some of the inappropriate activity occurred in one of the guard control rooms, Haste said.

In addition to the physical contact, Haste said the officers gave special treatment to the inmate, including bringing him food.

Over the past two years, the prison has been installing security cameras, and Haste said this case shows those efforts have merit. The prison has more than 40 cameras, with plans to add more, he said.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael L. Rozman said the investigation is continuing.

"We can't have inappropriate contact between corrections officers and inmates," Rozman said. "We expect them to treat each other with respect."

JACK SHERZER: 255-8263 or jsherzer@patriot-news.com