Gov. John Carney announced his appointment of Claire DeMatteis — a former senior counsel to then-U.S. Sen. Joe Biden — as a temporary special assistant to the governor at the Delaware Department of Correction.
DeMatteis will focus her efforts on reform of management practices and training, cultural turnaround and implementation of Carney’s plan after the Independent Review into the causes of the Feb. 1 incident at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. She will work alongside Correction Commissioner Perry Phelps and report to Carney on implementation of the plan. DeMatteis, a Delaware attorney, also will issue publicly-available reports — at six months and one year after her appointment — that detail the state’s progress in implementing the Independent Review’s recommendations.
DeMatteis will help ensure Phelps can continue to lead agency operations, while the two work together to implement reforms the governor and commissioner have prioritized.
In addition, Carney and the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware recently announced an agreement to raise salaries for Delaware’s correctional officers — including a 22 percent increase to starting officer pay. The agreement, which includes establishment of a Labor-Management Committee to study additional staffing issues, will help the state recruit and retain officers across Delaware’s correctional system.
Carney’s DOC plan also includes:
— Investing $2 million in new cameras and authorizing 50 additional correctional officer positions at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.
— Investing $1.3 million in new equipment and training for correctional officers.
— Appointing a new bureau chief of community correction with expertise in managing reentry programs and reducing recidivism.
— Directing the Delaware State Police and the Department of Correction to jointly conduct an after-action review of the Feb. 1 incident.
—Directing the to-be-created Department of Human Resources to implement a comprehensive staffing plan that eliminates the shortage of correctional officers.
DeMatteis, who will begin work in July, has a diverse professional background in government, corporate governance and healthcare.
From 2013-16, DeMatteis worked as general counsel and senior vice president at Affinity Health Plan Inc., where she was responsible for legal, regulatory and compliance matters for the $1.4 billion corporation. She worked in a similar role as executive vice president, general counsel, and chief privacy officer for Catalina Marketing Corp., a digital media marketing company.
DeMatteis spent four years at Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, a mid-Atlantic law firm with offices in Wilmington. She was partner in charge of the firm’s Delaware office from 2007-08.
During her decade working as senior counsel for Biden, from 1994-2004, DeMatteis served as a member of a senior team on issues involving law enforcement, foreign policy and constitutional matters. She helped guide campaign strategy, managed constituent communications and drafted legislation.
DeMatteis served in a senior role at the Delaware Department of Labor, where she helped navigate resolution to the recent data breach at the department, keeping the media, public and legislators well informed on the state's response and structural reforms to prevent future breaches.
DeMatteis earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and holds a law degree from Widener University Delaware Law School.