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County officials may consider Pre-Release Center to relieve prison overcrowding

Lycoming County Commissioners Tuesday discussed the possibility of using the Pre-Release Center for relieving some of the over-crowding of the county prison system.

County Commissioner Tony Mussare noted that many beds in the PRC remain empty and, with many prisoners transferred out of county, use of the local facility could save costs.

But county officials noted there are factors to consider before merely re-locating inmates from the local prison to the PRC, which provides offenders with the opportunity to participate in work release, educational programs, drug and alcohol counseling, life-skills training, and community service and recreational activities.

The PRC houses both male and female offenders.

County Sheriff Mark Lusk said, given the diversity of inmates and different types of crimes members of the prison population have committed, it’s not a simple solution.

“You may need to make physical changes to the PRC,” he said.

Commissioner-elect Scott Metzger noted that many inmates pose a risk of fleeing prison.

He noted also the backlog of court cases that result in sentencing delays which help create prison overcrowding.

“We know we have to do something,” Commissioner Rick Mirabito said.

Mussare said most recently that 55 of 137 beds in the PRC were empty.

Some of the overcrowding issue, he said, has been relieved by the county contracting with The GEO Group, which provides treatment and case management services through the reentry program for offenders with the goal of reducing recidivism and preparing them for re-joining society.

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