Due Process or Assumption of Guilt

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On September 14, a Division meeting was held at the Jimmy Evans Training Center for all EdCC staff working at the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC). One of the primary concerns expressed by staff to Misha Cain, Acting Dean of Corrections Education, was the issue of how instructors and classified staff can be afforded due process in the event a disgruntled student accuses them of unprofessional behavior. One such case is pending at MCC.*

 

A number of staff members stated that they feel they are without any legal protections in the event such an accusation is made.  Since they are contract employees working inside a DOC facility, they fall into a kind of procedural “no-man’s-land”. Under the current system, when an accusation is made, the staff member is questioned by a DOC Investigator -- and then frequently walked off the job – even if the accusation is without any supporting evidence, or if the accuser has a history of filing frivolous lawsuits and complaints.  When the accused instructor or classified staff is suddenly taken off the job, it can give the false impression of guilt.  The class is usually closed until a replacement instructor can be found.  This puts remaining students at a distinct disadvantage for completing course requirements and strains a thin budget even further.

 

 It is not hard to imagine the emotional stress and embarrassment that goes along with such an accusation.  Similar situations have been reported at correctional facilities around the state, with similar results.  Rarely has an accusation against staff been found to be true. However, damage to the person’s reputation can be difficult, costly, and perhaps impossible to restore.

 

With the help of local 4254 and the state AFT office, several faculty from MCC have agreed to form a statewide taskforce to address workplace risk for corrections educators, with the goal of better protecting faculty.  We will report our progress in a future update to the Enquirette.







 ·        I am happy to tell you that this case was dismissed but not before the faculty member in question suffered all the indignities mentioned in the article over a period of many months.