Three SCI-Somerset staff injured by prisoner

February 12, 2019

An inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Somerset assaulted three corrections officers over the weekend, according to a prison spokeswoman.

The assault took place around 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the dayroom of a housing unit at the state prison along the Garrett Shortcut Road. There were no weapons involved. All three officers were taken by state vehicle to a local hospital to be evaluated for their injuries. None of the injuries were life-threatening, according to a Department of Corrections media release.

The inmate was immediately confined to the prison’s restricted housing unit, said Christie Schenck, public information officer at SCI-Somerset. The facility was locked down pending investigation.

Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association President Jason Bloom issued a written statement Monday complaining about a change at the state prison.

“Locking down a prison is one thing, but ignoring an existing agreement with PSCOA” is another, Bloom said. “Prison leadership recently doubled the number of men from this inmate’s housing unit who were allowed out of their cells at one time for scheduled recreation. They did this despite repeated warnings from PSCOA and an already overwhelming numbers advantage for inmates.”

The assault could have been avoided by “upholding an existing common sense agreement,” he wrote. “It’s unbelievable that these hard lessons still must be learned at Somerset. “

He wrote that the union “will do all in its power to hold management accountable.”

The Department of Corrections did not identify the staff members or inmate involved. The incident is under investigation internally and by the Pennsylvania State Police, Schenck wrote in the media release.

“The DOC takes all assaults seriously and works to determine how they happen and how they can be prevented,” the release states. “The safety of its employees is a priority of the DOC, and attacks on staff will not be tolerated.”

At least four SCI-Somerset employees were assaulted by inmates in 2018, including Sgt. Mark Baserman, who succumbed to his injuries on Feb. 26, according to court documents. Paul Kendrick, of Pittsburgh, is awaiting trial on homicide and other charges in Baserman’s death.

The state prison named a new superintendent in July. SCI-Somerset was home to 2,386 inmates in December. It has 585 full-time employees.

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