CLEARFIELD – Finances and an “extraordinary occurrence” topped Thursday’s Clearfield County Prison Board meeting.
Warden Gregory Collins alerted the board to an incident that happened in the last month when there was an altercation between two inmates, resulting in one inmate punching the other in the nose.
He said it was serious enough that the Lawrence Township police had to be called in order to investigate the incident, and ultimately the county may be responsible for the cost of surgery for the victim.
Collins noted that both were pre-trial detainees.
Commissioner Mark McCracken asked if the county may eventually be able to recoup the cost if the defendant is found guilty. Collins said it is possible; however, the money would likely be paid back in small amounts over several years.
The board also received a letter from Eastern Revenue Inc., a collections company that works to collect housing costs of inmates.
Collins explained that the company Clearfield County Jail used for many years, Remit Corp., merged with Eastern Revenue last year.
Earlier this year, he received a letter informing him that Eastern Revenue would no longer be accepting new accounts and when his office requested a reason, another letter was sent that did not explain why but simply reiterated the company’s decision.
Collins suggested two options. One is to see if there is another company that will take on collections. The other option is to start charging inmates a booking fee of $25.
Collins has talked with other counties that charge a booking fee and the way it would be paid is, any money the inmates receive for commissary, etc., the $25 would first be deducted.
Only county inmates would be charged. Inmates from outside the county would not be.
The board approved investigating the matter further and also investigating other collection agencies.
Commissioner John Sobel also reported on a meeting with Clearfield Wholesale Paper Co.’s president Joel Peterson and a committee made up of himself, Sheriff Michael Churner and Collins.
He said Peterson had several suggestions for reducing costs for the jail and possibly other offices and they will have more information soon.
Collins reported the jail population began with 153 inmates with 145 committed, 141 released and an average daily population of 157.
January ended with 151 inmates and as of the meeting time, there were 160 housed in the jail. The county has 173 inmates total, with eight housed in Jefferson County and the rest in other facilities around the state.
There were 22 inmates on home detention. The cost to house inmates in Jefferson County last month was $22,110.
January also began with three participants on work release. No new inmates were added and two were paroled.