POCOPSON — As prison officials across the state grapple with illnesses caused by an unknown substance coming in from the outside, Chester County Prison remains as yet unaffected, according to a statement issued this week.
“Chester County Prison staff is constantly on alert for ways that inmates may try to smuggle illegal substances into the facility,” the statement read. “(Warden D. Edward McFadden) and members of his staff are working closely with the state regarding this recent issue.”
Last week, state prisons were placed on lockdown after links were found at a number of facilities to a clear, odorless chemical known as synthetic marijuana that were causing illnesses.
“In light of these recent incidents, prison staff has received additional training and guidance as new safety measures have been implemented,” the prison’s statement read. “The prison is following relevant procedures recommended by the state to help prevent the entry of illegal substances and the possibility of any illegal substance contaminating prison staff and the inmate population. This includes corrections officers’ use of masks and gloves in situations where the possibility of contamination could be present.”
On Tuesday, reports came that a western Pennsylvania county prison was put on lockdown after almost a dozen employees became ill from a similar unknown substance.
Allegheny County officials say nine corrections officers and two medical personnel have been sickened since about 10 p.m. Sunday by some kind of odor or substance at the Allegheny County Jail.
County spokeswoman Amie Downs said all employees were taken to a hospital for evaluation and have since been released.
Officials said the jail will be locked down until further notice. Staff members are interviewing inmates and plan searches to determine the cause. County police are also investigating.