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Investigative committee releases full report on work environment in Missouri prisons

The committee of lawmakers investigating the Missouri Department of Corrections released its full report Thursday. (File)

The committee of lawmakers investigating the Department of Corrections released its full report on the department's work place environment.

Earlier this week, the report was initially issued to the Speaker of the House, Representative Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff).

The report listed several concerns and dozens of recommendations after the committee spent the legislative session taking testimony from employees, wardens, and the newly appointed director of the department, Anne Precythe.

Lawmakers listed findings of sexual harassment, supervisors bullying employees who file formal complaints, and favoritism among prison management.

"The inconsistencies and how the policies and procedures were being handled, it seemed like not everyone's on the same page," said committee chairman, Rep. Jim Hansen (R-Frankford).

The committee suggested the department establish a 24-hour hotline for employees. Director Anne Precythe testified toward the end of the session, saying the department had established the line. Committee members recommended the department report the number and types of calls the hotline receives, at least for the first few months.

Hansen also requested Richardson allow the committee to stay intact through the interim session.

"I think I would like to do that so I could hear from the director, and if we feel it's necessary, hear from some wardens in the state," said Hansen.

The wardens were a concern in some committee members comments, according to the report.

"The new director ought to have the chance to personally evaluate her staff and give her time to do that," Hansen said.

In an email, Department of Corrections spokesman David Owen said the department appreciates the work the subcommittee did during the session. "Throughout this process, the director has had several conversations with subcommittee members and the chair, and has already put in place some of the recommendations made in the report," said Owen. "We look forward to reviewing the remaining recommendations and will work toward putting many of them into effect."

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