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Jail to review policies following death of Crawford County corrections officer

December 1, 2010

Tom Elbel

BROOKVILLE — Wednesday, following the violent death of a Crawford County corrections officer, Jefferson County Warden Tom Elbel told the jail board that the jail’s policies are being reviewed.

According to Elbel, the death of corrections officer Gary M. Chapin, of Conneaut Lake, occurred as a new inmate, Gregory G. Brown, 24, of Meadville, was being processed.

Brown became violent while being processed, during which he was not placed in any restraining device, and killed Chapin.

When asked if Brown used any sort of weapon, Elbel responded simply, “The wall.”

Chapin, 49, died Nov. 15 as a result of the injuries. He had been in a coma for several weeks before succumbing to his injuries.

Jefferson County Sheriff Carl Gotwald said Chapin was the first corrections officer to be killed in Pennsylvania.

Elbel said there was a camera in the booking room where the attack occurred, but he said there was no reason to believe that a camera would have prevented the death.

The Jefferson County Jail Board is looking into other improvements that could lessen the likelihood of an attack at the jail.

“We’ve talked to maintenance, and we’re looking to install a bull ring,” Elbel said, speaking of a ring attached to the wall that an inmate could be cuffed to while being processed. “There are concerns with central booking.”

In other business:

• Elbel reported that the jail is housing seven inmates from McKean County, which pays the jail $55 per day for each inmate housed in Jefferson County.

The McKean County jail is under renovation, and a recent drug raid overcrowded the jail. Elbel said there has been little trouble with the new inmates, although he said they were “kind of loud and obnoxious at the start until they understood how our jail worked.”

He said the McKean inmates have been split up and are now in different housing units. The jail board is hoping for more inmates from McKean County, but nothing more has been reported. Also, Elbel does not know how long the McKean inmates will be housed in Jefferson County.

“It all depends on their (McKean County’s) jail population,” he said. “They could pull them out today, or they could be here for months.”

The jail began seeking inmates from other counties several years ago because of the financial benefits associated with receiving the $55 per day inmate housing fee. Elbel said the jail could currently house at least 10 more out-of-county inmates.

Those financial benefits allowed the jail to experience increased revenues recently, in part because more inmates than expected were received from the Cameron County jail.

Through November, the jail board received $162,642.07 in revenue. Last year, $152,875.75 was received.

Conversely, year-to-date expenditures currently total $2,070,716.98, which projects to a decrease in total expenditures from the $2,479,388.28 used last year.

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