All state prisons in Pennsylvania are on lockdown after dozens of workers at several of the institutions fell seriously ill in the last month. Officials believe the prison employees may have been sickened after being exposed to synthetic marijuana, according to media reports.
Corrections Secretary John Wetzel told reporters that he is unsure how long the institutions will remain on lockdown.
“We’re really just trying to make sure everybody’s safe and calm everybody down until we come out of this,” Wetzel said. “We don’t want to take a chance. We don’t want to put our staff at risk and, frankly, we don’t want to put our inmates at risk.”
Corrections officials announced the lockdown of all 24 state prisons on Wednesday after employees at institutions in Greene, Fayette, and Mercer counties became ill in five separate incidents. The workers who fell ill exhibited symptoms including shortness of breath, flushing, and loss of consciousness.
While on lockdown, inmates must remain in their cells 24 hours per day. No visitors are allowed and mail service for all but legal correspondence is halted. Wetzel said in a press release that the illnesses were being investigated.
“Our state prisons, especially those in the western part