Canaan Twp., PA –U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) visited a federal penitentiary in Wayne County amid reports that five of the facility’s correctional officers fell ill this week during routine cell checks.

In two separate incidents, officers who were conducting pat downs in U.S. Penitentiary Canaan’s housing units began experiencing dizziness and other symptoms, and had to be rushed to Wayne Memorial Hospital. Two officers were affected during a cell check on Wednesday, and three were affected on a separate check on Thursday. The cause of both incidents is suspected to have been airborne exposure to unknown drug substances smuggled into the facility.

“I’ve spoken with all five officers, and I’m happy to report they’re all okay,” said Congressman Cartwright. “I want to thank them for their selfless service to our community, and I commend the staff at Wayne Memorial Hospital for treating these officers in a speedy and professional manner.”

On Friday, Rep. Cartwright advocated for a new, digitalized mail system at U.S.P. Canaan to protect correctional officers from these kinds of incidents, and to eliminate the possibility of inmates receiving drug-laced mail.

“It’s clear to me that we must modernize the inmate mail system, not just at Canaan but at penitentiaries across the country,” Cartwright said. “It’s working in other places, where staffers digitally scan incoming letters in secure facilities, and then inmates can read digital copies of their correspondence on a screen.”

“If we can close this known pathway to drug smuggling, we can protect correctional officers and inmates, and we can avoid dangerous incidents like these from happening again,” the congressman added.