Overcrowding at the Schuylkill County Prison reached a new high as the total number of inmates housed as of Wednesday reached 321, according to the report made by Warden Eugene Berdanier at the monthly meeting of the county prison board which was held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.

Berdanier reported there are 254 males and 67 females housed and 67 cells have triple occupants. The board, for a number of years, has been exploring plans for alleviating the overcrowding in a building constructed in the mid 1880's to house a maximum of 200 inmates. The most recent plan was to build an addition inside the courtyard of the prison but the plans are currently on hold.

The warden also gave the board an update on the physical plant as to work done to make repairs to toilets in cells, blocked drains, washing machine, a puncture in the water tank, and replacement of a belt in the fresh air unit.

The expenditures for operating the prison for the month of March were, $300,269.20 for salaries and wages, $17,437.91 in overtime pay, $6,320.12 for materials and supplies, $4,979.68 for clothing and bedding, $23,989.06 for groceries, $6,936.37 for water and sewer service, $2,334.43 for maintenance and supplies, and $1,1445.85 for maintenance contracts.

The warden reported meeting with Trinity and Canteen Corrections Commissary to discuss inmate commissary program which has served the inmates for the past 20 years.

A new program was proposed taking advantage of new technology. The new program will link the current inmate phone system with the inmate management computer program, allowiing the inmates to self order on the phone up to a set limit and their account balance, eliminating the ordering sheets and for the prison staff to collect and process the orders which has been a time consuming process.

PrimeCare Medical Inc., which provides health care to the inmates, reported nurses responded to 209 sick calls, 58 seen by psychiatrists, 32 visited dentists, and 14 were on suicide watch.

In the work release section there were 14 beds filled by inmates who hold employment and 10 inmates participated in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Monthly revenue totaled $2,728 paid by inmates for room and board and $1,020 was collected for their fines and court costs.