The delicate equation of solving the county prison overcrowding

The Lycoming County Prison has an overcrowding problem.

And when a prison has an overcrowding problem, the solutions come with a delicate equation.

At the Lycoming County Prison Board meeting last week, for instance, President Judge Nancy Butts and District Attorney Eric Linhardt advanced an entirely practical solution.

The judge wants district magistrates when they arraign people to note whether they might be eligible for intensive or supervised intensive bail, whether the defense attorney recommends it or not.

And the pretrial release date and day to report for intensive supervised bail will go hand in hand to keep people away from dangerous nothing-to-do time.

This plan comes with risks, Linhardt acknowledged.

But he said he’s willing to take the risk because the county has more officers and more intense monitoring through a broader variety of means.

The idea, Judge Butts said, is to keep the county prison for the people who are really a threat to public safety, which has not always been the philosophy.

But something’s got to give. The prison is overcrowded most of the time.

It would be nice if the solutions were without risk, but that’s living in a dream world. If the judge and DA have a plan, it should be tried – with caution.