BUNKER HILL – The Indiana Army National Guard has been deployed to Miami Correctional Facility to held operate the prison following staffing shortages caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
James Frye, the prison’s public information officer, said soldiers from the National Guard started at the prison the second week of August working in control pods inside the facility. He said guardsmen do not have contact with any of the offenders.
According to the Indiana Department of Correction, units from both the Army and Air national guards have been deployed to state prisons since May following the coronavirus outbreak.
“Like so many other employers across Indiana, the Indiana Department of Correction has been impacted by members of the workforce contracting the COVID-19 virus,” the IDOC said in a release. “While other businesses may be able to operate with a reduction in their workforce, the unique duties performed by correctional staff must continue with proper staffing levels.”
Miami Correctional has had five staff members test positive for COVID-19, with three having recovered, according to data provided by the state. Two offenders have tested positive, and one has died presumably from the virus.
Frye said it is unknown how long National Guard units will be stationed at the prison. He said IDOC was not releasing to the number of deployed units for safety reasons.
Guardsmen are currently also stationed at the correctional facilities in Pendleton and Westville.
The IDOC Training Division conducted two-day training sessions to prepare the guard members for their assignments. All aspects of the training were designed to provide operational awareness during temporary assignments.
Some points of training included defensive tactics, search practices, radio etiquette, use of restraints, recognizing criminal manipulation and basic security principles. Once trained, the soldiers and airmen were able to assist with exterior perimeter safety patrols and other administrative duties.
“This joint agency cooperation helps ensure the safety and security of all of our staff and offenders,” said IDOC Deputy Commissioner of Operations Jim Basinger in a release. “The Indiana Army and Air National Guard have been an incredible ally during the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate their service to the Indiana Department of Correction, the state of Indiana, and their country.”