Burns demands governor, corrections department confiscate deadly boots from state prison inmates

HARRISBURG, Feb. 28 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, sent letters today to Gov. Tom Wolf and Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel demanding that the state confiscate and permanently ban inmates’ heavy-soled work boots, like the ones an inmate wore earlier this month to inflict injuries that killed an SCI-Somerset corrections officer.

Burns, founder and chairman of the Blue Lives Matter Caucus, is also demanding to know why the brutal attack on Sgt. Mark Baserman, who was kicked repeatedly in the head, had to happen before the DOC decided to stop selling those boots through the prison commissary system.

“I want to know why a state corrections officer had to die before the Department of Corrections responded,” Burns said. “The department said they’re suspending commissary sales of these heavy work boots, but what about the hundreds of boots inmates are still wearing? Do we have to wait for another officer to die before the state acts to remove them completely?”

Burns said he stands solidly with the state’s prison guards in their call for immediate removal and ban of the boots.

“It’s not enough to suspend commissary sales,” Burns said. “We need to confiscate these weapons now. I don’t care if the inmates have to wear flip-flops if it means saving a corrections officer’s life.”

Burns also is demanding answers on what footwear inmates are allowed to wear and when the clothing rules were last reviewed.

“These officers put their lives on the line for us every day. They deserve better,” he said.