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Schuylkill plan for prerelease center does not change

Published November 19. 2009 05:00PM

There is no change in the plans of the Schuylkill County Prison Board to proceed with construction of a prerelease center near the state prison facility in Ryan Township.

At the monthly meeting of the prison board, held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville, the board heard a presentation from Renewal Treatment Inc., a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit prisoner treatment and rehabilitation company, on a preliminary proposal of acquiring a building in Pottsville for a prerelease center.

President Judge William E. Baldwin, who chairs the prison board, told the representative he knows the company has an outstanding reputation and is aware of the prelease center it installed in Allegheny County, but said the county situation is different.

Baldwin said the county doesn't have the funds to spend $2 million a year on a prerelease center. By constructing its own, it will save money because the county has employees who can perform the treatments prescribed for drug and alcohol and mental problems. Also, the county has to continue to operate the prison in Pottsville. The prelease center is to alleviate overcrowding at the prison by housing nonviolent people with short prison terms.

The Renewal plan is to provide comprehensive forensic substance abuse treatment services to adult men and women in the criminal justice system. These services are based on a cognitive behavioral approach in which offenders are taught to identify and recognize thoughts and feelings that lead to criminal and high risk behaviors. The offenders are then taught to restructure anti-social thought patterns and direct their behavior toward a prosocial lifestyle. The service includes assessment, education, treatment, continuing care, aftercare and referral.

Warden's report

Warden Eugene Berdanier gave his report on operations of the prison.

It took in $14,652.77, which was augmented by expenditures of $427,039.20. Monies received included $6,396.54 from room and board from inmates on work release, and $1,872,23 from inmate commissary commissions.

The major expenditures were salaries totaling $236,603.15 and overtime totaling $48,754.82. Currently, seven officers are off-duty on extended medical leave and two officers on restricted duties. Also, the prison spent $7,836.77 on materials and supplies; $833.66 on clothing and bedding; $12,043.36 on fuel, electricity, water and sewer and $72,829.12 on professional services.

One officer, John Connors, submitted his resignation.

The prison population for October reached a high of 312. The population as of this date was 296, including 255 males and 41 females.

All beds were full in the work release section. Ten inmates participated in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, nine inmates were eligible for parole and one female was removed from the work release program for violation of prison policy.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program completed 26 jobs in 21 working days for the month. Five days were spent providing service to 75 senior citizens as referred by the Office of Senior Services; 13 community jobs and eight jobs for the county were completed.

The medical report shows 39 inmates were seen by dentists in October with 15 having extractions; 18 inmates were on suicide watch and 175 were seen by psychiatrists.

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