CLEARFIELD – President Judge Fredric Ammerman on Tuesday referred members of the Clearfield County Prison Board to an article that recently appeared in the Altoona Mirror and noted that Clearfield County is not alone in its budgetary woes as far as inmate overpopulation is concerned.
In recent years, Clearfield County has seen the population at Clearfield County Jail skyrocket due to a number of factors, most notably the abuse of opioid drugs and the abuse of methamphetamines.
Ammerman noted the article talks about Huntington County, which has a jail that was built around the same time as CCJ, in 1979, but was constructed to hold only 25 inmates. In 1987, the jail only had eight inmates.
Now, with doubling capacity by adding cots, the jail houses about 50 inmates. The rest are sent elsewhere. And there are no facilities in Huntington for women, whereas Clearfield does have separate housing for female inmates.
Clearfield County regularly houses around 170 inmates and others are usually housed at Jefferson County, although some can be housed elsewhere for various reasons.
Ammerman has stated at previous meetings that he can remember a time, not that long ago, when the jail was rarely at capacity, and now the county must pay to have inmates housed in other places.
In March, Clearfield County paid $19,140 to Jefferson County to house inmates.
As of Tuesday, the breakdown is 168 at CCJ and 54 in Jefferson, with an additional four inmates at other facilities, bringing the total to 226. Information provided by Warden Gregory Collins breaks this down even further.
At Clearfield, there are 63 pre-trial detainees, 25 that have been sentenced, 17 probation violators who aren’t sentenced, 10 jailed for domestic sentences, 10 for magistrate sentences, 23 for fail to appear bench warrants, seven for bail revocation, one for failure to pay bench warrant and 12 awaiting state transfer.
In Jefferson County, two of the inmates are pre-trial detainees, 45 have been sentenced, three are probation violations, one is a failure to appear bench warrant and three are bail revoked inmates.
Additionally, about 22 people are on home detention. That number is not included in the 226.
Ammerman added that Clearfield and Huntington are not alone and other counties across the state are facing similar problems. And the rising number of inmates puts a strain on the county budget, making up the majority of the budgeted amounts each year.
The other high cost for the jail is medical. In March alone, $26,283.78 was spent on medical care for inmates, with $19,775.79 spent on prescriptions. The other large expenditures are to Penn Highlands Clearfield at $2,070.49, Penn Highlands DuBois at $2,610.44 and Penn Highlands Life’s Journey at $965.41 for OB/GYN care.
The board also welcomed Michael Cook, the new deputy warden of operations at CCJ.