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Schuylkill prison struggles continue

Published November 13. 2019 01:26PM

The prison population continues to be higher than desired, while the staffing continues to be lower than desired.

During a Schuylkill County Prison Board meeting Thursday, Warden Eugene Berdanier said that during October, the peak census including males and females was 266; the peak female census was 70. The average population during October was 250 total, with 187 men and 63 women.

To alleviate overcrowding, inmates have been outsourced to other county prisons.

The average number of inmates outsourced during October was 86. Currently, the number of outsourced inmates is 96, which includes 70 in Centre County, 11 in Columbia County, 9 in Northumberland County and six in Snyder County.

The county pays about $65 per day for the outsourced inmates, but that doesn’t include the cost of transportation to and from the other facilities, which often creates additional overtime costs in staffing. The total salaries and wages for October were $312,342, plus $10,045 in overtime costs.

Lack of staffing also contributes to overtime costs. Although the prison board approved the transfer of one corrections officer from part-time to full-time, there are still six part-time vacancies and one full-time vacancy. In addition, three corrections officers are off-duty on extended medical leave and two are on restricted duty status.

During October, there were 47 inmates on detox watches and 70 on suicide/mental health watches. There were three pregnant inmates.

Ten inmates participated in work release and three participated in the vocational rehabilitation program. The vocational rehab program completed 14 jobs, including 10 community service jobs, two county jobs and two senior services jobs.

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