Eight correctional officers have resigned and another seven filed for retirement from the Delaware prison where a deadly standoff involving hostages occurred this month, a prisons spokesman said Tuesday morning.
The influx of voluntary resignations comes as Gov. Jim Carney's announced the launch of a special commission Tuesday to investigate the Feb. 1 riot that left a veteran officer dead at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC) in Smyrna.
Carney appointed two retired Delaware judges to lead an "independent review" of the uprising. Former state Supreme Court Justice Henry duPont Ridgely and former Family Court Judge William Chapman Jr. will head the new commission.
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"We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to find out exactly what happened inside James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, and what we can do to prevent this from happening," Carney said.
The violence involved more than 100 inmates in a section of the state prison and lasted more than 18 hours before SWAT teams eventually stormed the cell block where the hostages, initially four, were held. Sgt. Steven Floyd, a 16-year Department of Correction veteran, died inside the prison. Many details remain unclear, including exactly what caused Floyd's death, why he was attacked and how many inmates were intimately involved in planning the disturbance.
All of the inmates in the section of the prison where the violent outbreak occurred remain suspects in Floyd's death. Three other hostages survived.
Funeral services for Floyd took place last week.
The crisis began just after 10:30 a.m. when a correction officer radioed for help from inside the center's Building C. Throughout the day and evening, inmates tried negotiating with authorites, and also called a Delaware newspaper twice with demands and reasons for the prison takover.
In the first call, a man said their reasons "for doing what we're doing" included "Donald Trump. Everything that he did. All the things that he's doing now. We know that the institution is going to change for the worse."
A man on the second call said education for prisoners was the inmates' priority. They also said they want effective rehabilitation for all prisoners and information about how money is allocated to prisons.
Three of the eight officers who resigned Feb. 1 left the job immediately, a Department of Correction spokesman said. All of the officers worked at JTVCC.
Another nine correctional officers filed retirement paperwork, including one who retired immediately, DOC spokesman Jayme Gravell said in a email. A teacher also retired.
Of those nine staff members, seven worked at JTVCC, Gravell said.