Schuylkill County prison war­den wants 8 more part-time work­ers im­me­di­ately

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - LOCAL - BY PETER E. BORTNER STAFF WRITER Con­tact the writer: pbort­[email protected] re­pub­licAn­herAld.com.

POTTSVILLE — Schuylkill County Prison War­den Eu­gene Ber­danier said Wednes­day that he wants eight more peo­ple work­ing for him as soon as pos­si­ble.

“We’ll start to fo­cus on fill­ing those eight spots in 2019,” he said dur­ing the monthly prison board meet­ing of the open part-time cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer po­si­tions at the county jail.

Those are the only va­cant po­si­tions at the prison, ac­cord­ing to Ber­danier. Fur­ther­more, there are no cor­rec­tions of­fi­cers on ex­tended med­i­cal leave and only three on re­stricted duty, he said.

Ber­danier also is op­ti­mistic about the re­cent state in­spec­tion of the fa­cil­ity, say­ing he be­lieves it went well.

Pres­i­dent Judge Wil­liam E. Bald­win, who chairs the board, shares Ber­danier’s op­ti­mism.

“I think we’re go­ing to get a good re­view,” he said, not­ing that the triple-celling of pris­on­ers, which had been a prob­lem, has been greatly re­duced.

Bald­win also cred­ited the sher­iff ’s of­fice for mov­ing in­mates in and out of the prison as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“I think they prob­a­bly live in a van,” he said of the deputy sher­iffs who trans­port the pris­on­ers when nec­es­sary.

Ber­danier said there are now 69 in­mates in other coun­ties’ prisons, in­clud­ing 44 in Cen­tre, 12 in Columbia, 11 in Lack­awanna and two in Berks. There are none in Sny­der County, which, like the other four, has housed pris­on­ers due to over­crowd­ing in the Schuylkill prison.

The county spent $1,515,210.26 on out­sourced in­mates in 2018, Ber­danier said.

How­ever, the av­er­age num­ber of in­mates, which was 270 in Jan­uary 2018, dropped to 211 in De­cem­ber 2018, with the av­er­age in­mate stay be­ing 30 days, he said.

Also, the county re­cently made a num­ber of re­pairs at its prison, Ber­danier said.

Those in­cluded, ac­cord­ing to Ber­danier, com­plet­ing the pri­vacy/se­cu­rity fence; re­plac­ing the flood­light near the in­side of the front gate with an LED bulb, which im­proved vis­i­bil­ity; re­pair­ing the en­trance door to E Block, which is the re­stricted hous­ing unit; com­plet­ing the an­nual clean­ing of the heaters in the boiler room; and re­pair­ing a leaky toi­let, which re­quired re­place­ment of some longer pipes. He said the new se­cu­rity en­trance area ramp should be fin­ished this month.

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