Seems a former prison inmate started “his life of crime over again within minutes of being released,” Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small told WPVI-TV.
In an incident Small called “somewhat bizarre,” 26-year-old Jamal Bennett didn’t make it off the property of Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility when he attacked a prison guard — 27-year veteran Michael Maratea — who had just finished his shift around 11 p.m. Friday, the station said.
Bennett targeted Maratea about 45 minutes after his release, WCAU-TV reported, adding that the guard told Bennett to stop several times — but officials said the former inmate kept approaching his car.
Authorities told WPVI that Bennett was pummeling Maratea, 66, and trying to steal his car when the guard pulled the trigger of his personal weapon and hit Bennett in the chest.
Bennett also allegedly tried to grab Maratea’s gun and take his phone, correctional officers’ union representative Lorenzo North told WHYY-TV. Inmates are given bus fare when they’re discharged, prisons spokeswoman Shawn Hawes added to the station.
Bennett was in critical condition at a hospital but was expected to survive, the station said, adding that Maratea is expected to be OK.
What’s the story with the guard’s gun?
Correctional officers aren’t typically armed with guns in prison, WHYY reported, but they can check their personal weapons in a staff locker room before reporting for duty. Maratea retrieved his gun prior to the attack, Hawes added to the station.
What is Bennett’s criminal background?
Bennett — who had just been released from custody on a probation violation for a weapons charge — will be facing new charges, WPVI reported.
He has been in city prisons seven times since 2011, WHYY reported.
What issue has the incident brought to the forefront?
The incident has placed on the front burner the issue of inmates, their families and guests parking in the same lot as employees, the station said.
How did the union rep for correctional officers react?
“Sadly, the Commissioner of Prisons will put an inmate’s family and visitors first before the safety of employees,” North said in a statement Saturday, WPVI reported. “No other prison allows visitors to park with correctional staff, but the Philadelphia Department of Prisons does.”
How did a prison official respond?
“The parking arrangement in the shared parking with civilian and staff at the house of corrections has been in place over 20 years,” Philadelphia Prisons Commissioner Blanche Carney said at a news briefing.
“I take all staff safety into account,” she added. “I’m responsible for them and when we see that there’s a situation that presents itself, and we’re able to correct it and address it, we do.”
Carney also told WPVI there will be a review of their procedures.