Thomson prison says it is taking steps to address inmate sexual misconduct

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THOMSON — The federal penitentiary at Thomson has taken three steps to address incidents of reprehensible behavior — including inmates exposing themselves and engaging in other sexual acts in front of employees — the prison said in an email.

The email was in response to a request made of Warden Thomas Bergami for comment by Shaw Local News Network in light of allegations made Thursday by the prison’s employee’s union that the problem was not being addressed.

The prison acknowledged the detrimental effects the behavior can have on prison staff.

“Due to the complex mission of USP Thomson, the number of incidents with individuals engaging in these behaviors has been higher,” the prison said. “In response, additional measures have been implemented.”

The three actions taken are:

1, the prison is identifying the cell doors of inmates engaging in that behavior and implementing “alternative security enhancements.”

2, the prison is attempting to address the core behaviors prompting inmates to act out and it is developing a plan that balances the need for additional security measures while reducing opportunities that employees might encounter the misconduct.

3, the prison educates employees concerning the handling and reporting of these incidents so they can be referred to an employee assistance program and to the inmate discipline program. Referrals can initiate prosecution protocols and involve a multidisciplinary committee, which is responsible for developing behavioral plans for inmates after they commit prohibited acts.

The email said the Bureau of Prisons, including Thomson, shares concerns about the frequency of these incidents.

“This sort of behavior is reprehensible and can have a damaging impact on law enforcement officers who already work in a challenging environment,” the prison said.

According to the email from the prison, staff members receive annual training regarding strategies for addressing inmate sexual misconduct and for notifying supervisors and for filing incident reports.

The prison said when inmates are brought in they are screened. The prison’s zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse and sexual harassment is explained.

“Increased monitoring may be required for identifying high-risk inmates,” the prison said.

A news release on Thursday from American Federation of Government Employees called for the removal of the warden, saying there were 321 incidents of inmates engaging in sexual misconduct against staff in 2022.

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