Lycoming County prison problems, costs multi-faceted

Lycoming County paid Clinton County $16,497 to house inmates in May. Lycoming County will pay an estimated $35,000 to Clinton County in June to house inmates.

Lycoming County’s daily inmate population in June was 378.8, a record dating to 2007.

Clearly, something has to change.

The county would benefit greatly from a reduction in the number of repeat offenders.

But until that happens, the county has to find a way to stop paying other counties to house inmates. It’s necessary when it needs to be done, but frankly, it feels like flushing money down a toilet.

Lots of possible remedies were discussed at last week’s county prison board meeting.

The best way to handle inmates in the pre-release program and non-violent offenders where to put them and how to do it most efficiently must be determined soon.

A suggestion to have a non-violent offender center at the former Mater Dolorosa Catholic Church on Hepburn Street deserves discussion. Williamsport Mayor Gabriel J. Campana, meanwhile, asked city solicitors to prepare a resolution preventing it from being located in the city.

Greater use of the property at the county farm in Loyalsock Township is a worthy alternative to consider for all prison operation improvements, but blanket prohibition of Williamsport in any solutions isn’t a fair way to start the discussion.

County leaders have some difficult days ahead in solving the long-term prison population problems and the costs attached to them.