Prison board: Overcrowding to blame in costs beyond budget

For the second consecutive year, Lycoming County Prison is expected to exceed its annual budget – and prison overcrowding is the culprit.

When the prison nears its capacity, inmates are taken to either the Clinton County Correctional Facility or the pre-release center. So far this year, $120,000 has been expended just for inmate housing costs out of the $400,000 budget, warden Kevin Deparlos reported at the prison board’s meeting Friday. July’s bill alone is in the $66,000 range. These costs don’t include man hours or transportation costs.

The prison population is reaching all-time highs, with June’s numbers reaching record-breaking heights at an average daily population of 378.8. July’s average daily population was 377.35. For both months, the highest population was 387 – too close to the 392 capacity, said Lycoming County Commissioner Jeff Wheeland. Those numbers have risen since 2007, when the average daily population was 336.10.

“We continue to max out on bed space in the prison with historical high numbers,” Wheeland said.

Judge Nancy Butts said the upside is the supervised release program, which uses security ankle bracelets is helping to ease the prison crowd, as 83 are enrolled now. It costs $60 a day per inmate at the Clinton County Correctional Facility, versus $16 a day for the ankle bracelet program, in which certain prisoners are released under supervision, Butts said.