Inmates at the Schuylkill County prison will be wearing photo identification tags attached to their prison garb in action taken by the county prison board at its monthly meeting held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.
Warden Eugene Berdainier commented the action is to add more inhouse security. "We never released the wrong prisoner on my watch, he commented, adding, "Our procedure is when a defendant is brought to the prison he is photographed and his photo is placed in his file and when he is being released the photo is placed on the outside of his file and double checked before he goes through the prison doors."
The prison population as of Wednesday was 244 males and 48 females. The high for January was 319 inmates. Sheriff Joseph Groody, who chaired the meeting in the absence of President Judge William E. Baldwin who was busy in court, reported last week he transported 17 prisoners by bus to a state prison facility.
Berdanier reported the cost of operating the prison in January totaled $298,463.63. He said this was $71,900 below the average and said the reduction in overtime helped reduce the amount. Overtime pay for this month totaled $16,389.86, which was half of the costs for other months.
Commissioner Frank Staudenmeier informed the board the commissioners, at an earlier meeting, created 10 part time correction positions to be filled to bring further cuts in overtime expenditure. Currently there are three correctional officers, one lieutenant, and one maintenance person off duty as they are on medical leave.
In his report on the physical plant, Berdanier reported a kiosk (display stand) was installed in the lobby area which will provide visitors a resource to deposit funds immediately onto an inmate phone or commissary account with the unit under camera surveillance.
He also reported a policy change for inmates in the work release block which will no longer allow the inmates daily access to shaving razors. Prior policy was the work release inmates would purchase and store razors in a control room and request use when on yard time. Under the new policy electric trimmers are available and for special needs purpose a razor will be issued with supervision and secured by an officer. The policy is for the officer's safety.
There were 17 inmates who have jobs were housed in the work release section. Ten inmates participated in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, including three females. They completed 20 jobs including services of 100 senior citizens as recommended by the Office of Senior Service Agency. Collected for their room and board was $3,711; and $1,940 towards their court costs.
The medical report showed 299 inmates were on sick call, 29 saw a dentist, 212 visited in-house clinics, and 10 were on suicide watch with no incidents reported.