Prison board eyes new tools

The Lycoming County Prison Board, while meeting Friday at the new Central Processing Center in Old Lycoming Township, was updated on another tool the county is working toward establishing – a day reporting center for nonviolent criminals who are under county supervision.

A day reporting center would provide space for the Adult Probation Office to intensely monitor probationers who are awaiting trial or have been let out of the county prison on electronic monitoring. Other programming, such as GED classes and testing and drug and alcohol counseling, also might be run out of such a center.

Two additional officers recently hired by Adult Probation were added with an eye toward staffing a future center. Now the county must decide how it will be administered and where it should be located.

BI Inc., a national provider of monitoring technologies, which also privately contracts to run day reporting centers in several Pennsylvania counties, presented several service plans to the district attorney, the warden and the commissioners last month.

Then, President Judge Nancy Butts and Warden Kevin Deparlos visited Franklin County’s day center to get some ideas of how a similarly sized county is running its program.

“(The center) will need a room for group counseling. We need the ability to take tests in a room with a bank of computers and we need sufficient room for a wing of offices, because we’ll have officers on-site,” Butts said. “I don’t know what else I can do … before we know where we’re going to do this.”

“We’re working on it,” said Commissioner Jeff Wheeland.

“My hope will be, we can find somewhere really close to the county prison,” Butts said.

A day reporting center is expected to alleviate some of the prison crowding issues that have plagued the county since mid-2012.

“If someone’s in the county prison because of drugs or alcohol and it’s not technically a public-safety issue, I can say, ‘If you’re doing what you need to do on a 90-day sentence, I can let you out in two months and seven days,’ ” Butts said.

As of Friday, no inmates were housed in other counties’ jails, Deparlos said. A group of nine inmates was returned on the evening of March 5 after a vanload of prisoners was sent to SCI-Camp Hill. For February, the county averaged 5.57 inmates housed out-of-county per day.

After adjourning the meeting, the Prison Board took a look at the new Central Processing Center housed at the Old Lycoming Police Department. Chief William Solomon demonstrated the new Commonwealth Photo Imaging Machine by taking Butts’ mugshot – the high-resolution photo center allows law enforcement to attach the details of appearances when people are booked and send that to the state police data repository.

The center is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays so that misdemeanor offenders may come in to have their information taken, Solomon said.