Recouping Costs Tops Prison Board Meeting

CLEARFIELD – Recouping costs topped the discussion at the Clearfield County Prison Board meeting Thursday.

The board has been discussing ways to improve finances. Already Clearfield County Jail has had year to date expenses of $1,167,305.60.

While there is revenue to the jail, including reimbursements from medical, lodging for work release, etc., they do not meet expenses. One of the biggest problems has been the per-Diem charge.

Each inmate is charged a certain amount for each day they are housed at the jail. Warden Gregory Collins said he could not give an exact amount of what the cost is, since it varies, but a good idea would be around $57 to $58 per day, though that amount could be higher or lower based on costs.

However, collecting that money is another matter. In the past, the county has worked with a collection agency, but in recent months, Eastern Revenue Inc. informed the county they would no longer be acting as a collection agency.

Collins presented an idea to the board to charge a $25 booking fee. He said it is something other counties due with success, notably Elk County.

The board has revisited the idea at subsequent meetings and Thursday gave Collins the go-ahead to create a written policy for board members to review.

One key point is that the money would be collected from the prisoner’s commissary account before any other withdrawals are made from that account.

Collins said there is the potential to collect $17,000 to $20,000 a year this way. He presented a chart showing that from 2013 to now the jail has only collected $24,564.61.

Generally, even with a collection agency working on the accounts, the jail recoups very little of the housing charge.

The county can also continue to use a collection agency and Collins said he has been working with Commissioner John Sobel to look into another collection agency and presented information on three options to the board.

After some discussion President Judge Fredric Ammerman suggested that they have both systems in place and see how it works.

He expressed concern that if the jail did away with the per-Diem charge for county inmates, the Attorney General’s office would not want to pay the rate for their inmates when housed as CCJ and they do get paid by the AG.

Once the board receives Collins’ proposal they will revisit the matter in June.

During his report on inmate population, Collins informed the board April began with 160 inmates. Further, 133 were incarcerated and 137 were released. April ended with 160 inmates.

Prior to the meeting, Ammerman had mentioned he and Judge Paul Cherry have been working to release some prisoners and the total to date may be around 155.

There are 35 inmates on home detention. April began with two prisoners on work release, two added, one paroled and ending with three in the program.

The board also mentioned Gov. Tom Wolf has named this week as Corrections Employees Week and they thanked all corrections employees and those involved in the corrections system in general.

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