Carbon correctional facility's policies fall short
Carbon County Correctional Facility's policies are in need of updates.
During the monthly meeting of the county prison board on Wednesday, Warden Joseph Gross announced that the facility's annual inspection was held Sept. 13 and 14, but was not completed due to the fact that under the new state standards, the county's policies failed to meet the criteria.
"Some of our policies don't measure up to the standards," Gross told the board. "There's just not enough meat on the bones."
He explained that the new standards were rolled out in March in what is called "Inspection in a Box." This was the idea of new Department of Corrections, division of inspection director Kay Kishbaugh, who used the model for law enforcement and created the new inspection criteria.
Gross added that the facility cleanliness received a decent score and said the inspector called the place "immaculate."
He said that the full report of the inspector's findings was not yet available and he would present it to the board when he receives it.
"There will be a lot of recommendations that need to be taken care of," Gross said. "It's going to involve spending some money and making some major changes around here."
County controller Robert Crampsie, chairman of the prison board, asked how other counties did in their inspections under the new standards.
Gross said that counties that were inspected in January and February, before the new standards were in effect, received 100 percent in compliance. After March, many of the county prisons were in the same boat as Carbon's, because policies were not up to the set standards.
Gross pointed out that one county prison, Dauphin County, did better than the rest and he plans to speak with the Dauphin County warden to see what the policies are and how Carbon can beef up its policies.
The prison staff will now work on updating policies in preparation for the state inspector's return. The inspector is expected to return in late November or early December to review the changes.
In other prison business, officials are weighing their options on outsourcing the prison's kitchen operations.
Gross said that after discussions at last month's meeting regarding the prison's kitchen personnel staffing issues - there are currently two full-time cooks and one part-time for the prison, with no new applicants available for hire - he contacted three vendors to get quotes for outsourcing the operations.
He reported that two of the three vendors would be interested in submitting proposals and said they could save the county money.
Both companies would provide options for the county to keep its current kitchen staff under its direction while working with the outsourcing company or for the company to take the staff and employ them as their own.
The board voted to allow Gross to obtain proposals from the companies.
Other business discussed included:
• Gross reported that the $25 booking fee for inmate intakes has brought in some income since beginning to charge in August. The August report showed that $1,388.99 was collected so far.
• Gross also reported that the county started using the newly converted gymnasium as its work release block. Currently 14 inmates are being housed in the gym.
• The topic of combining the part-time Livescan operator position and the part-time administrative assistant position into a full-time position.
Gross said that they are in dire need for that position.
Crampsie said that after looking at the centralized booking operations financial figures, if the figures continue to rise, as they did in August, then he would be in favor of the new position. His reasoning for this was because the revenue brought in from the centralized booking operations would help offset the costs of the additional expenses, such as benefits, associated with a new full-time position.
He added that he would like to monitor the booking figures until the end of the year before making a final decision.
Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard agreed with Crampsie, saying that if the revenue is there, then he would be in favor of the position.
Until then, the board told Gross to continue operations as normal.
• The board discussed a recent letter from the newly formed Carbon County Mayors' Association regarding the prison getting recertified to detain illegal immigrants until ICE agents can pick them up.
Gross told the board that ICE wouldn't even consider it because the county prison does not meet the current requirements for certification, which include having 20 open beds available for ICE residents.
The prison is currently operating at 110 percent capacity, Gross reported.