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Increase of women prisoners creates a housing problem

Published March 18. 2010 05:00PM

The large increase of women prisoners in the Schuylkill County lockup in Pottsville has created a housing problem in the old bastile, according to a report received by the Schuylkill County Prison Board at its monthly meeting. This month's meeting was held Wednesday in the county prison, where it meets four times a year. All other members are held in the courthouse.

In his report on the prison population Warden Berdanier cited as of today there were 44 women lodged in the prison and there are only 34 bunk beds available in the women's quarters of the prison. He said cots had to be moved into cells to accomodate the large number. The total prison population as of this report was 295 inmates, which included 251 males. Progress is slowlty being made towards construction of a release center to eleviate the overcrowding but bids have not been given out for its construction as discussians are still undergoing with state prison officials.

A swtich to burning gas instead of coal has been made in the prison because of problems with the new boiler. Coal worms have been jammimng which caused the boiler to be shotoff and switched to gas. Public Works Director Bill Liptok was instructed to go over new forms which will be filled out for gas meter reading, coal and gas boiler daily operation. Also a control room air unit broke down and needed repair and the ktichen cooler had to be changed

The warden's monthly financial report showed salaries and wages for employees was $168,167.42 and overtime $20,231.68. Other expenditures included $3,138.31 for materials and supplies, $103.91 for clothing and bedding, $28,582.94 for groceries, $18,699.62 for fuel, electricity water and sewer, $57,620.58 for professional services, $3,319.12 for maintenance and repairs. Total expenditures to operate the prison was $300,864.46.

The report on programming in the prison showed eight inmates qualified for the GED (General Education Diploma) Program, a new replacement treatment service started March 4 provided by New Beginnings. Group classes are held weekly for male and female inmates. The counseling service focus on a co-occuring as well as offering a drug and alcohol education component. A meeting was held with the local census bureau concering the population census of the country which is underway. The formal census of the prison is set for April 1.

Prime Care Medical Inc., of Harrisburg, which provides medical aid to the inmates, In February two inmates were hospitalized for two and three days. Nurses respondes to 113 sick calls, 39 inmates saw dentists with 11 extractions and 17 were on suicide watch but no incidents were reported.

Twenty-five inmates were housed in the work release section who went to work daily and spent the nights in prison and not in their homes. Eleven inmates participated in the Vocational rehabilitation Porgram which completed 18 jobs. Three days were spent providing service to 75 senioir citizens referred by the Office of Senior Services, 11 community service jobs completed and five jobs for the county.

President Judge William E. Baldwin presided. Attending were Commissioners Mantura Gallagher and Frank Staudenmeier, District Attorney James P. Goodman, Sheriff Joseph Groody and Controller Melinda Kantner.

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