New Castle News

June 20, 2013

Report shows jail nearing capacity

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The Lawrence County jail is nearing capacity, according to a census report issued Wednesday at a prison board meeting.

Warden Brian Covert said as of Wednesday, the jail was housing 267 inmates. That includes 48 state parole violators and 34 women. None was scheduled to be released or transferred Wednesday.

There were 17 total beds available in three of the housing units, six open in booking and nine in the medical unit.

Commissioner Dan Vogler, who sits on the board, commended the jail staff for its work on getting the state parole violators into the facility to generate revenue.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is paying the county to house violators of state parole, rather than housing them in state penitentiaries.

“Considering where we were in the spring, it had us concerned from a budgetary standpoint,” Vogler said.

Last year, the county was housing non-violent state offenders at $50 per day, but when a new prison opened in Centre County earlier this year, the state took them away.

That lack of income left a hole in the jail operations budget. Shortly after that, jail officials entered an agreement with the state to house the parole violators, at the statewide rate of $65 per inmate per day.

David Gettings, county controller and prison board chairman, noted that if the county can continue to maintain its population of state inmates in the jail, “we won’t have a budget shortfall for 2013.”

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)