DOVER, Del. (WBOC/AP)- An attorney who helped lead prison reform efforts after a deadly inmate riot has been tapped by Gov. John Carney to head Delaware’s corrections system.
Carney on Tuesday announced the nomination of Claire DeMatteis to replace Department of Correction Commissioner Perry Phelps.
Phelps plans to retire July 15 following a brief tenure marked by the riot, lawsuits alleging mistreatment of inmates, and chronic staffing and morale problems.
Carney hired DeMatteis in 2017 as a special assistant to help implement recommendations contained in a review of the February 2017 riot at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.
“For much of the last two years, Claire has worked side-by-side with Commissioner Phelps to lead reform efforts at the Department of Correction – to make our facilities safer, to invest in new equipment and training, and to recruit correctional officers to do one of the toughest jobs in state government,” said Carney. “Over three decades of experience in government and the private sector, Claire has worked closely with community leaders, legislators and law enforcement officials and has earned their respect and trust. I have full confidence that Claire’s experience and leadership qualities will serve our state well at the Department of Correction. I look forward to the Senate considering her nomination.”
The review found that DOC officials’ dismissal of warnings about trouble brewing at the prison reflected an overcrowded, understaffed facility plagued by mismanagement, poor communication, a culture of negativity and adversarial relationships among prison staff, administrators and inmates.