Carbon County's prison saw a reduction in inmate population in October, officials said.

During the county prison board meeting on Wednesday, Warden Joseph Gross reported that in the last 30 days the prison inmate population dropped from a high of 215 down to 184.

He said he was unsure of the reason for the drop, but said probation officers had not brought in as many as they usually do last month.

The inmate population as of Wednesday was 198, which is showing another uphill trend.

The last time the prison population was in the 180s was in July, when the population averaged 185. in August it jumped to 200 and September, 215.

As a result, overcrowding has been a major issue at the Broad Mountain facility, with officials needing to utilize the indoor gymnasium as a new housing unit and triple up beds in cells.

An overcrowding committee was formed last month to investigate possible ways to help lower the population. They met last week and plan to meet again in January.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein said that the county judges, as well as the court administrator, toured a day reporting center in Franklin County to see if that could be an option for Carbon.

Nothstein is now organizing a day when the prison board can visit a day reporting center and see what it has to offer.

In other matters, the work release program at the prison has six inmates employed.

Frank Shubeck, prison work release/treatment director, reported that Kovatch Corporation was at the facility on Tuesday looking to add more work release-eligible inmates to its workforce. Currently, four inmates are employed at the business.

Shubeck noted that if an inmate is on work release but does not have outside employment, the prison then utilizes them for in-house work, including maintenance or cleaning.

Gross and Shubeck also updated the board on the progress for a firing range on the grounds of the prison. The range will allow corrections officers to train without having to travel.

The state has checked the site and made some suggestions for the proposed range and the prison is now waiting for approval by the Carbon County Planning Commission and the Nesquehoning Zoning Board.

The board approved a motion to begin clearing the site once approval from all necessary parties is received.