The county prison overcrowding equation a difficult challenge

The Lycoming County Prison has spent $120,000 on inmate housing costs in the first seven months of 2013.

It spent $66,000 in July alone on those costs to take inmates to either the Clinton County Correctional Facility or the pre-release center.

These costs don’t include the cost of the man hours or transportation involved.

This is the real bill for a prison population that is reaching all-time highs, 378.8 in June and 377.35 in July. The capacity for the county prison is 392.

For some perspective on how much the prison population has risen, the average daily population was 336.10 inmates in 2007.

Clearly, something has to be done, and the solution isn’t to be lenient about sentencings at a time when drugs and violence are putting a big imprint on the local crime picture.

Alternatives such as the supervised release program are helping ease the prison overcrowding, but it’s too soon to figure out whether they are a long-term solution.

Perhaps a battery of prison alternatives will be the answer to the overcrowding, but, again, those solutions need a tryout of significant duration. More prison facilities are a costly solution.

Solving the prison overcrowding problem while maintaining the integrity of the county’s court and penal system is a difficult equation.

It will take open minds and creative vision by multiple parties to find the best solution.