Prison board backs electronic messaging kiosk

After months of deliberation, the Lycoming County Prison Board gave the nod of approval Friday toward implementing electronic messaging kiosks for prison inmates.

The Lycoming County Commissioners are slated to vote on the matter on Thursday.

The kiosks would allow inmates to message family, file complaints or see the inmate handbook, Prison Warden Kevin DeParlos said. Inmates would only be able to message someone on the outside who already has an account with the system.

There will be no expense to the county as the services are funded through GTL, a national corrections technology company, and inmates or their families would pay a fee to use the service.

Messages would cost about 30 cents each, both sent and received, which would generate a small revenue for the prison. Further, the messages sent or received would be saved and copied for security purposes, allowing prison officials to use the messages for investigative and safety reasons, DeParlos said.

District Attorney Eric Linhardt wanted to take the past month to further research these services and verify that they comply with state wiretap laws.

“I am satisfied that the manner in which this will be set up is compliant with Pennsylvania wiretap laws, and I’m in favor,” Linhardt said.

Commissioner Tony Mussare, who also questioned aspects of the service, said he concurs with Linhardt.

In another matter, DeParlos said the June prison population was 356, the lowest population of 2017. He added there are 13 females currently placed out of county.

John Stahl, adult probation supervisor, said the county Reentry Center had a population of 90 as of June 1. The program is up to 178 successful completions since its implementation in 2014.

The next prison board meeting will be at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 11 at the county courthouse.