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Health care, food costs high at county prison

Published September 26. 2013 05:00PM

It cost $65,556 for health care for inmates and $40,610 to feed them during the month of August, according to the report made by Warden Eugene Berdanier to the Schuylkill County Prison Board at its quarterly meeting Wednesday in the county prison in Pottsville.

Currently there are 307 inmates in the overcrowded prison, 251 males and 56 females. Other expenditures included $298,501.55 in salaries and wages, but the warden reported there were three pay periods last month. Maintenance and repairs of the old bastille, which was built in the mid-1800s, cost $9,364 and clothing and bedding, $7,754.

The report on the plant shows a new hot water heating unit was installed; a shed was purchased for storage of gas operated equipment and fuel outside the prison; repairs were completed to the control room computer; and a broken sewer pipe repaired.

The warden reported a Saint Patrick's Church group coordinated a prison visit by the Rev. William Seifert, diocesan coordinator of Prison Ministry, and Bishop John Barres, and all inmate services were well attended and appreciated.

Currently there are three correctional officers off duty on extended medical leave. Also, there are three correctional officer vacancies and one lieutenant vacancy, which the board seeks to fill in the near future. Also, three inmates have been hospitalized and are guarded. The overtime cost for the month totaled $38,3356.

The report by Prime Care Medical Inc., which provides health care to the inmates, reported 215 were on sick call, 36 saw a dentist, 84 visited the inhouse clinic, and 13 were on suicide watch with no incidents.

Twenty-three inmates, who have jobs, were housed in the work release section. They paid $3,876 for room and board and $1,160 was collected towards their court costs.

Thirteen inmates participated in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program and completed 22 jobs with five days of service to senior citizens as referred by the Office of Senior Services, a county senior citizen's organization. Thirteen community services were also performed for jobs for the county.

Eight inmates are enrolled in a program provided by the Pottsville Area School District and attend a class in the prison to earn credits towards a high school diploma.

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