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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Prison issue does cause alarm but truth needed

  • One of the most tragic stories to come out of Wayne County happened less than two weeks ago.
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    One of the most tragic stories to come out of Wayne County happened less than two weeks ago.
    A guard at the federal prison in South Canaan was killed by an inmate. He was killed by an object made by the prisoner.
    Since the incident, the information coming out about the incident has been almost nothing.
    We still don't know the name of the inmate who killed the guard. We don't know how long the guard was lying on the floor after being attacked before he was found.
    We simply don't know very much whatsoever about this incident.
    To be sure, the law enforcement authorities involved in this case have been anything but open.
    And that is a problem.
    The public has a right to know about the circumstances surrounding the case. Some members of the public have loved ones who are working at the prison and they want to know more information, as well.
    There's even a grander issue here about how guards are placed in federal prisons and if it indeed does put them in danger. That would appear to be the case and the public has a right to know.
    But there is another problem here, as well.
    Sensationalism.
    We've all seen it with some in the area media, especially those with television cameras.
    Some reporters are quoting "sources" they say are "close" to officials in the prison.
    Using unnamed sources has always been walking on shaky ground.
    There are times and places to do just that, but this doesn't seem to be one of them.
    Two families are grieving and other prison employees are wondering what is going to happen each and every day.
    There is fault in the law enforcement community because more information should have been released. But it is quite difficult to force law enforcement officials to do something their minds are set against. It will likely take legal action by a media source and that takes time.
    In the meantime, all of us are stuck without knowing the correct information about a tragic incident. An incident which indicates there could be danger lurking right now inside the walls of federal prisons across this nation.
    It is our policy at this newspaper to print the facts when we know they are correct.
    We, too, have talked to "sources," however, that doesn't mean we are going to speculate based on those sources.
    Also, Facebook and Twitter are not credible sources. Some reporters need to learn this very quickly.
    Page 2 of 2 - We are as frustrated as all of the other media outlets that information about this case is basically being kept under wraps by law enforcement officials. It is wrong and should not happen.
    But the fact is, that's how it is at this point in time. There is little we can do to change that situation other than continue to apply public pressure.
    We will not, however, start quoting anonymous sources and acting like that is the gospel. It is not.
    Yes, there is a problem at the federal prison in Wayne County and at prisons like it all across the nation.
    But printing rumors and innuendo will not make it any better.
    Our best path is to keep pressuring those in charge to do their jobs and inform the public about what happened and what they are doing to correct the situation.
    Simply speculating and quoting sources which may or may not be credible gives us all a bad name.
     
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