Missouri Lawmakers Question Officials On Prison Harassment

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Lawmakers are questioning checks and balances in Missouri prisons following reports of employee harassment and costly settlements.

Potosi Republican Rep. Paul Fitzwater after drilling officials during a Thursday committee hearing said the Corrections Department has been policing itself.

The agency fell under scrutiny after the Kansas City alternative weekly The Pitch reported on harassment and discrimination claims by prison employees. Some say they were retaliated against.

The paper reported the state’s paid more than $7.5 million in related settlements and judgments from 2012 to 2016.

Inspector General Amy Roderick told lawmakers that if wardens don’t consider complaints to be potentially criminal, they can refer them to the in-house human resources staff instead of her investigative office. That could mean some allegations of criminal misconduct are not investigated as such.

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