Officials: CO shoots just-released inmate after attack
The just-released inmate attacked the CO in a parking lot near the prison during an attempt to take his vehicle
By Patricia Madej and Samantha Melamed
PHILADELPHIA — A correctional officer shot a just-released inmate outside a prison in Holmesburg late Friday after an alleged carjacking attempt, according to the Philadelphia Department of Prisons.
Around 11 p.m., shortly after leaving the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, Jamal Bennett, 26, allegedly attacked the officer, Michael Maratea, 66, in a parking lot near the prison during an attempt to take his vehicle, said Shawn Hawes, a spokeswoman for the PDP.
Maratea, who was just off work, fired a personal weapon, hitting Bennett in the chest, according to the release. He was transported to Jefferson Torresdale Hospital in critical condition. The officer was taken there, too, and was reported in stable condition; he was released with “bumps and bruises” Friday, according to Lorenzo North, president of Local 159, the chapter of AFSCME District Council 33 that represents correctional officers.
To North, the incident was a symptom of direly inadequate security on the grounds of the city’s jails, where visitors, support staff, and guards all share the same parking areas.
“For at least two years, I’ve been asking for a separate parking lot,” North said. “The correctional officers have a job to do, but receive no help from the management to go home the way they came to work.”
He said union members also wanted to see more security in place during shift changes in the parking lots and on prison grounds, and floated the idea of a secure transport that would deliver released inmates to the bus stop rather than letting them out the front door.
“This is a wake-up call,” he said. “If Mr. Maratea wouldn’t have had a gun, what would’ve happened to him?”
Hawes said plans for a secure, staff-only parking structure on the grounds have been in the works for quite a while.
“It’s a part of capital projects that are under consideration right now. It’s something we’re working on and hopefully we’ll be able to accomplish,” she said.
She said that officers regularly patrol the grounds on bike and in cars, but that the PDP will reevaluate the effectiveness of those patrols.
“We’re willing to examine anywhere there’s holes in security,” she said. But, she added, “considering inmates are released 24 hours a day, once the court order is done or bail is paid, it’s just not that easy to monitor inmates.”
Bennett was being held at the prison on charges of violating probation for weapons offenses prior to his release Friday night, prisons officials said. He has been incarcerated seven times since 2011, the release said.
Maratea has been employed by the PDP since 1991.