Concerns about the increase in female prisoners was raised by Commissioner Francis McAndrew, a former sheriff, at the monthly meeting of the Schuylkill County Prison Board which was held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.

McAndrew's comments came after Warden Eugene Berdanier reported the current prison population had 205 males and 51 females. McAndrew said when he became sheriff in 1993 there were no more than nine to 10 females in the prison. Current Sheriff Joseph Groody commented that many of the women in prison now are drug users. Berdanier said they now occupy two tiers in the prison.

President Judge Willilam E. Baldwin, who is chairman of the prison board, added that extra costs have been experienced by pregnant women with drug problems. The judge added that there are programs offered to get them back on the right path.

Other business

In his monthly report to the board, Berdanier said the expenditures for operating the prison for the past month was $424,693,53, which included $42,086.22 paid on overtime to correctional officers.

Commissioners Frank Staudenmeier asked what caused this high cost and Berdanier's explanation was guards had to be assigned to 24 hour duty in the hospital in which two inmates were patients, overtime pay for holiday work and to fill in time of off duty officers. But he added that he believed it would not exceed this year's budget.

The warden reported the facility was inspected by the Department of Corrections, Office of County Inspections and Services on Nov. 1, 2 and 3 and he received a preliminary summary with recommendations for "Plan of Action". Berdanier reported he would submit as instructions by Dec. 12, prior to the official report being completed. Controller Melinda Kantner asked would the board members be shown the report before adoption. Baldwin assured her she would receive the report.

Prime Care Medical Inc., which provides health care to the inmates, reported 97 were on sick call in October, 50 were seen by psychiatrist, 220 by phsycologists, 47 made trips to the dentist, 10 had extractions and 16 were on suicide watch.

Work release beds were full for the whole month of which 19 beds were filled with inmates with emploment. Eleven inmates participated in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Ten female inmates participated in the work release program. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program completed 22 jobs in 21 working days including 13 community service jobs and seven jobs for the county.