blood-to-blood contact with an inmate during a struggle at the
Coxsackie Correctional Facility near Albany, N.Y., Walter
Wolfe, an AFSCME Local 1264 (Council 82) member, fears he’s
contracted a transmissible disease, maybe even AIDS-causing
HIV. But Wolfe and his family can’t be sure, because the
inmate, exercising his legal rights, refused testing for HIV
and other infectious diseases. Now Wolfe is afraid to touch
his wife and two small daughters, worrying he could infect
wife Marilyn recently took her family’s story to the U.S.
Congress, calling for stronger protections for COs and other
public workers against inmates with transmissible diseases.
current laws allowing inmates to refuse medical tests, she
said, "We have worked so hard for a decent life ... but
with all that, it appears the convicted criminals have more
rights than us."
with Wolfe was Michael Graney, a CO and executive vice
president of Council 82, who spoke in favor of federal
legislation that would require mandatory testing for
transmissible diseases of incarcerated persons.
whose council represents nearly 26,000 state correction and
law enforcement officers, told the House Judiciary
Subcommittee on Crime: "Correction officers frequently
have been physically assaulted by inmates and even had blood
and other bodily fluids thrown at them, all of which seriously
jeopardize their health and safety ... [and create] the very
real risk that they would carry a disease back to their
is just one of many serious illnesses that endanger COs on the
job. For instance, as many as 40 percent of incarcerated males
and 50 percent of incarcerated females are infected with
hepatitis C, a deadly, bloodborne disease for which there is
no known cure or vaccine.
Gov. Tom Ridge (R) recently signed into law a bill that would
make it a felony crime for inmates at county and state
correctional facilities to throw bodily fluids, including
blood, on correctional staff. COs from Council 13 lobbied at
the state capitol and in legislative districts across
Pennsylvania for the needed protections against communicable
York and several other state legislatures are considering