Burns stands with prison guards, calls for total ban on heavy work boots for inmates

HARRISBURG, Feb. 27 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, announced that he will be sending letters to Gov. Tom Wolf and Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel demanding a total ban on Timberland and similar-style heavy work boots for prison inmates. Burns is also demanding answers on why a state corrections officer had to die before the department responded.

SCI-Somerset Corrections Officer Sgt. Mark Baserman died Monday, nearly two weeks after being brutally attacked by an inmate wearing Timberland boots. A day after Baserman’s death, the state Department of Corrections issued a statement saying that it had suspended sale of such boots in prison commissaries.

Burns, the founder and chairman of the Blue Lives Matter Caucus, calls the move too little too late.

“The department says they’re banning the sale of these heavy, weighted boots. But why were they allowed in the prison in the first place, and why are they still in our prisons now, when it’s clear they can be used as deadly weapons?” Burns said. “I don’t care if the inmates have to wear flip-flops if it means saving a corrections officer’s life.”

Burns said he stands with the state’s prison guards, who also are calling for a complete ban on Timberland and other heavy boots for inmates.

“I’m calling for action now to confiscate and destroy these deadly boots," Burns said. “I’m also 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.”