45-year-old Austin Mulhern, who was found dead after an apparent suicide on Christmas Eve at George W. Hill Correctional Facility – was left uncovered by a nearby toilet as guards scrambled around, leaving several inmates with a picture they’ll never forget.
That’s the explosive claim of several sources – including inmates, staffers and former guards close to the catastrophic Christmas incidents that took the lives of at least two inmates and left at least eight others hospitalized after an apparent ‘mass-overdose’ and one suicide at Pennsylvania’s last standing private prison.
“The GEO Group dropped the ball on what transpired that horrifying week. They must follow some crazy corporate mathematical equation where a Sergeant is the equivalent to six guards; Lieutenant to nine; and Captain to twelve. So, with one of each, and six officers, they believe they have the manpower of 33 – when they actually have nine – who they treat like garbage.”
Despite that, Mulhern hadn’t been checked in several hours before he died. Inmates suggested the guards had fallen asleep – and a second source claims they are simply overworked, many of them pulling 16-hour shifts.
“The rounds were supposed to be done at 12 and they weren’t around until 1:15,” one inmate said. “They left him on the floor next to the toilet uncovered for hours across from another cell where 2 inmates had to see this.”
>> Mulhern did not show any indication of stress or suicide.
>> Guards tell us they were understaffed, though The GEO Group vehemently denies the accusation, claiming the guard’s claims are completely inaccurate.
>> Inmates claim he was in good spirits and did not give the impression of a man wanting to die.
It was reported that he had killed himself earlier that evening with a bed sheet fastened to the frame of the bunk bed in his cell. The 45-year-old, who worked as a security guard at Delaware County Community College, was apparently serving a 20-day stint for a DUI charge.
“All cries for help or grievances are constantly ignored and at times literally thrown in the garbage in front of inmates,” a guard who recently resigned from the private jail told yc.news. “During the holiday, inmates were hardly monitored because the prison is overpopulated but well understaffed. The GEO Group doesn’t give hardworking guards much room to grow, and when they do, the pay raise isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”
Mulhern’s death came just hours before five female inmates were suffering from an apparent ‘mass-overdose’ that resulted in at least one death.
We previously reported five women were rushed to local hospitals on Christmas following a mass-overdose, with at least three others sent on Christmas Eve. Sources close to the investigation previously told yc.news the women overdosed on fentanyl, not heroin, as widely reported by local media outlets. However, the prison refused to provide any comment whatsoever to yc.news – and friends, family and former teachers of Fatima Musa, 27, who died while in custody over the holiday, say the Chester native might’ve unwittingly smoked a laced cigarette or marijuana, but vehemently deny any history of heroin use.
However, a yc.news insider insisted security cameras hold the key to showcasing what really happened.
“There aren’t cameras in the individual cells, but in the hall,” the insider said.
Time-stamped footage from the surveillance cameras will show an understaffed prison in dire need of major assistance, according to the insider.
“The GEO Group has been extremely secretive about what exactly is going on,” an individual close to the situation told yc.news. “But my greatest fear is the truth is going to be buried – just like everything else that happens in that place.”
What’s more, inmates are forced to pay $5 to see medical personnel, after making an appointment over one week in advance and around the doctor’s oddly scarce appointment availability.
According to a second source, who is employed by a sub-contractor and visits the facility frequently claims the doctor is too old and nearly impossible to communicate with.
“It’s well-known that it takes over ten days to see the doctor, especially around any holiday, because he doesn’t do holidays. He’s like 101-years-old.”
According to an inmate, the medical unit has been extremely tight following the recent media attention that swarmed the jail.
“Inmates suffering from whatever it may be will not get a ride in the ambulance unless their pulse is completely gone,” the source said. “I saw at least 10 others asking for medical help, one guy looked really bad, like really bad. He can’t even get to the phone to call his family. That man probably thinks he’ll die alone, or maybe he will, maybe he doesn’t have family. Whoever he was calling before, though, he can’t call anymore. I know he used the phone daily. Not now. Not anymore at least.”
The merciless prison is owned by Community Education Centers, which was acquired by The GEO Group – a Florida-based company that specializes in privatized corrections, detention, and mental health treatment.
Sources told yc.news 69-year-old George Christopher Zoley – who owns the mega-corporation that purchased the prison, is expected to personally visit the grounds as soon as next week.
“George isn’t someone who visits the prison grounds unless there’s a ribbon cutting or something,” a second person stuck in the sticky situation revealed. “George is a powerful man — he won’t let some locals turn his prison into a circus slumber party.”
“From what I know, he wants to work with the new administration on what he can do make mends for the slop left behind from the local Republican patriarch — John Reilly, Jr.”
The tone for incoming district attorney Stollsteimer’s first few months in office is set before even crossing the courthouse threshold.
“Stollsteimer is upsetting the apple cart, taking on the establishment and a lot of people are angry and have a lot to lose. You’re seeing that play out in rolling resignations,” an insider at the Delaware County Public Defender’s Office previously told us. “The outgoing administration littered the district attorney’s office with conservative ideologues, saboteurs and spies.”
Reilly, a staunch Republican, stepped down in Nov. 2019 following a bombshell investigation released by The Philadelphia Inquirer, outlining a pattern of alleged racism swept under the carpet behind the fortified prison walls.
The GEO Group declined to comment.
Additional Reporting By: Brittany McGeever and Alexander Swanson.
This is an ongoing investigative special. Stay with yc.news for the latest updates. Have a story or news tip? Contact our 24/7 newsroom at 833.336.8013 or e-mail our tip line: [email protected]