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With new governor, county may house state inmates

February 28, 2011

Jefferson County Jail Warden Tom Elbel

BROOKVILLE — Jefferson County Jail Warden Tom Elbel was optimistic Monday that state inmate transfers could be possible in the future.

The county jail has long been interested in housing state inmates, because the jail receives $55 per day for each out-of-county inmate it houses. Currently, the jail has increased revenues by housing inmates from Elk, Cameron and McKean counties.

Elbel and the Jefferson County Jail Board attempted to secure a transfer contract with the state Department of Corrections last year, but that agreement fell through, and the state transferred inmates to facilities in Virginia and Michigan.

Members of the jail board criticized that move at the time because they felt state money should be allotted within the Commonwealth.

"I'm sure everybody knows that we have a new governor," Elbel said Monday. "He has named a new head to the Department of Corrections. There is talk that all of these state inmates housed out of state could be brought back. They'll be looking at housing those in county jails."

Elbel said the county would definitely be interested in housing state inmates, and he filled out a survey issued from the Department of Corrections.
"It is a rumor that they will bring them back, but it is a fact that they gave me a survey," Elbel said of the department.
The survey simply asked how many beds were available in the county jail and whether the jail board would be interested in housing inmates.

Board member Paul Corbin said he read a report that the inmates transferred to Michigan would be returning.

Elbel and Corbin said they have no information on the contracts that the state signed last year with Michigan and Virginia, and they could not say if there were terms of the transfers that would make returning inmates less likely.

"If they signed a two- or three-year contract, they may not be able to bring them back," Elbel said.

He added that Virginia had several problems with transferred inmates, because Virginia has a policy against facial hair, and many of the Pennsylvania inmates were Muslim.

In other business:

• The restrictive intermediate punishment drug and alcohol program report for January was accepted, along with the intermediate punishment report for January and February, the financial report for January and the jail report for January.

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