A key state lawmaker wants a Missouri House committee to subpoena prison wardens.

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. (left) and House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty (D-Kansas City) in the Missouri House south gallery on March 27, 2017 (Brian Hauswirth photo)

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. (D-St. Louis) is the ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Corrections Workforce Environment and Conduct, which is investigating allegations of harassment of prison employees.

Franks says it’s time to issue subpoenas to wardens.

“As we’ve seen in the duration of every single interview that we’ve done, with no matter who it was, it always tracks back to the warden,” says Franks. “The warden starts, the warden finishes.”

Franks tells Missourinet this is about transparency and accountability.

“We need to get the root cause in here (the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City), which is the warden,” Franks says. “We need to get the person who is the checks and balances basically for the entire institution in here and say hey what’s going on and why hasn’t it changed.”

House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) and House Corrections and Public Institutions Committee Chairman Paul Fitzwater (R-Potosi) formed the subcommittee in January, after the scathing November “Kansas City Pitch” investigation.

The “Pitch” investigation into the Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) painted a picture of repeated sexual comments and pressure from supervisors and co-workers to have sex.

The newspaper also reported in November that the state paid more than $7 million during the past four years, to settle lawsuits brought by Corrections employees who claim they were victims of harassment and retaliation.

House Subcommittee on Corrections Workforce Environment and Conduct Chairman Jim Hansen (R-Frankford) says the subcommittee will make recommendations on policies and procedures.

Missouri DOC Director Anne Precythe (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel; House Communications)

Missouri DOC Director Anne Precythe testifies at the Statehouse in February 2017 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel; House Communications)

Franks and Fitzwater agree that the House DOC investigation has been bipartisan. They also agree on two other key issues: they praise new DOC Director Anne Precythe’s open-door policy, and they say they’ve seen some positive changes at Corrections since she began.