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Growth spiral at Carbon prison

Published June 16. 2011 05:01PM

The inmate population at the Carbon County Correctional Facility is continuing to grow.

During the monthly meeting of the county prison board, Warden Joseph Gross explained the general block, which is made up of medium and maximum blocks at the prison is operating at more than 100 percent capacity and nearly a dozen inmates have been moved into the indoor gymnasium, which has been transformed into a temporary housing block for those inmates.

The current overall inmate population at the 172-bed facility, located on the Broad Mountain in Nesquehoning, is 151.

"The general block has now reached and superseded their limitations," Gross said. "We're now utilizing the indoor gym for general population housing. That currently has 11 residents in there."

He noted that to help with the additional housing, he has brought in an additional corrections officer to help cover the inmates.

Gross explained that these residents can only stay in the temporary housing for a few weeks before they must be moved into the blocks.

"According to Title 37, I can only house those certain inmates in that gym area for 30 days," he reported. "Then I have to rotate them out and bring in 11 more residents. But, if the population increases, what may be 11 this month, may be 15 or 20 next month."

Gross said that if the inmate population continues to grow, the county will need to find a solution to the housing problem, whether it be to expand the prison or find an alternative means to housing.

Gross then suggested the possibility of purchasing a modular trailer from FEMA, which can be converted into resident housing. The trailer would be placed inside the fences that surround the prison.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein said the county looked into that possibility but cost and transporting it were issues.

The current overall inmate population at the 172-bed Carbon County Correctional Facility, located on the Broad Mountain in Nesquehoning, is 151.

In other prison business, Charles Neff, maintenance supervisor at the prison, reported that the prison as struck by lightning during Thursday's storm, causing problems with the generator controls and the fire pump controls.

Last month, the board was looking into a lightning suppression system to protect the prison from lightning strikes, which it has been the victim of numerous times over the last few years.

During that meeting, the board again discussed one estimate for the suppression system, which includes placing high-voltage surge protectors on the electrical system. That estimate, submitted by Turner Lightning Protection Company Inc of Cincinnati, Ohio, came in at $13,690.

The board decided to not take any action at that time because the estimate was higher than what the county could spend without first bidding out the project. They were hoping legislation would be taken to increase the bidding process requirements before a decision needed to be made.

The board now said they must move forward with the project before a more severe strike happens.

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