LEXINGTON -- A female case manager at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington was assaulted by an inmate Friday, resulting in a broken nose.
After an inmate was released from the segregated housing unit on Friday, he went to speak with the case manager and then assaulted her in her office, said Sean Wallace, head of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, a group that represents the state’s corrections workers.
Joseph Harp is the state’s largest medium security facility, housing about 1,400 male inmates.
While case workers in state prisons are classified as non-hazardous employees, they work closely with inmates and it is not uncommon for them to spend time alone with offenders.
Wallace said like in many of the state’s prisons, staffing at Harp has decreased over recent years, due in part to low pay. A correctional officer in Oklahoma starts off at a rate of $11.83 per hour.
According to Wallace, the unit the case manager was working in houses 160 inmates, and only one correctional officer was in the unit at the time of the assault.
“Five or six years ago there would have been five or six employees on that unit,” said Wallace. “Staff is upset. They keep screaming about this, but lawmakers have done nothing, and this is what happens and will happen if nothing is done.”
Jerry Massie, spokesman for the state Corrections Department, said he could not confirm Wallace’s numbers, but said he would not be surprised if they were accurate.
Staffing has been decreasing at Harp, said Massie. The turn over rate at the facility is high, and many workers leave for better paying jobs in the oil fields.
Massie was not able to release the name of the case worker Saturday but said she has been released from the hospital and as far as he knows plans to return to work.