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31 Mar 2024

Philadelphia prison chief to leave job after string of inmate deaths and escapes

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March 31, 2024 Category: Local Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: Department of Prisons Commissioner Blanche Carney, right, updates news media outside the Philadelphia Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center Monday, May 8, 2023, on the recent escape of two prisoners as Mayor Jim Kenney is in rear, and Xavier Beaufort, left, Deputy Prisons Commissioner holds photos of the two escapees. Ameen Hurst, 18, and Nasir Grant, 24, escaped from the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center around 8:30 p.m. Sunday by cutting a hole in a fence surrounding a recreation yard, the Philadelphia Department of Prisons said. (Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)


PHILADELPHIA — The chief of the Philadelphia Department of Prisons is leaving the job after a series of inmate deaths and escapes.

Blanche Carney, who has overseen the city’s four prisons and jails since 2016, told staffers in a letter on Monday that her last day will be April 5, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. A department spokesperson confirmed Carney’s impending retirement.

The city’s lockups have been dealing with surging violence and the escape of four inmates in a span of six months last year.

The Pennsylvania Prison Society, a group that monitor’s the state’s prisons, interviewed nearly 50 inmates in Philadelphia last year and issued a report that documented the “dangerous and degrading conditions in the Philadelphia prisons.” The report said that inmates were confined to “rat-infested, caged areas, with insufficient food and insufficient healthcare for weeks or months at a time while their mental health deteriorates.” Ten inmates died in 2022, according to the report.

The Philadelphia correctional officers union cast a unanimous “no confidence” vote in Carney last year, asserting the facilities were understaffed and in “chaos.”

Carney, the first woman to serve as prisons commissioner, acknowledged the problems in her letter to prisons staff, saying the pandemic had “caused a tremendous strain on correctional operations worldwide.”

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