Department of Corrections fined $60K for COVID rule lapses

<p><p>Associated Press</p></p><p><p>OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Corrections has been fined $60,000 for failing to enforce COVID-19 protective measures at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen.</p></p><p><p>The state Department of Labor &amp; Industries said in a news release Wednesday the agency began an investigation and inspection after a correctional officer tested positive for COVID-19 in June and died.</p></p><p><p>The agency said it was one of three deaths among corrections staffers there who had tested positive for COVID-19.</p></p><p><p>Corrections data shows four Washington corrections officers have died from COVID-19, the fourth death was of an employee in the Monroe Correctional Complex in Monroe, Washington.</p></p><p><p>Department of Corrections Secretary Cheryl Strange said she has called for a review of Stafford Creek’s safety culture, the Seattle Times <a href=”https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/washington-department-of-corrections-fined-60000-for-lapses-in-covid-19-rules-at-stafford-creek-facility”>reported</a>.</p></p><p><p>“We care deeply about the safety of staff and incarcerated persons and this compliance issue … is troubling,” Strange said in prepared remarks.</p></p><p><p>Since the inspection, the agency has stepped up mask and physical distancing enforcement and taken other measures to separate personnel, according to Labor and Industries.</p></p><p><p>In an email Wednesday, a Corrections spokesperson said six disciplinary investigations had been opened at Stafford Creek for workers allegedly failing to follow coronavirus regulations.</p></p><p><p>The agency has taken disciplinary action against two staffers so far for not following COVID-19 measures, according to spokesperson Rachel Ericson.</p></p><p><p>Labor and Industries fined the correctional facility $9,000 in June for mask use and social distancing violations.</p></p>