Officials discussed the intricacies of two prison policies Tuesday morning during a lengthy meeting of the Elk County Prison Board.
Board members highlighted an existing policy regarding work release and school release inmates, and also discussed a policy regarding the detainment of inmates on civil and criminal bench warrants issued by a Court of Common Pleas judge.
"It's an existing policy that needed to be updated," Gebauer said when discussing T-033 regarding work release/school release. "All I had to do was change the eligibility requirements for inmates to work on the work release program.
"There are some new laws passed under the prison reform bill, I believe that one was Act 81, that pretty much stated that the judge makes an inmate eligible for work release but the warden of the facility can refuse them to go out to work if the warden feels that inmate poses a risk to security or safety to the community."
Inmates skipping out on work release and furloughs is nothing new for Elk County. Douglas Eugene Green, a former Elk County Prison inmate, was issued a six-hour furlough back in April of 2009 to attend a funeral in Clarion. Approximately six days later, Green was captured in Colcord, Okla. on April 9.
The last inmate who walked out on a work release assignment was William Umstead. He was incarcerated on July 15, 2010; declared a fugitive on July 28, 2010; and apprehended in Georgia on June 23, 2011, nearly 11 months after he had escaped.
Both had reportedly been incarcerated for domestic relations contempt.
A new policy, S-009, commitment on civil and criminal bench warrants issued by a Court of Common Pleas judge, also was discussed.
"We never had a policy on this but it was recommended through CCAP [County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania] to avoid any kind of litigation," Gebauer said. "There was a need for a distinct policy on bench warrants.
"With most bench warrants, the inmate can only be held for a period of 72 hours without having a hearing. CCAP [officials] recommended that every [corrections] facility have a policy to reflect how we're going to handle that process."
Elk County Prison Board
When: Tuesday, Jan. 10
Where: Courthouse Annex, Conference Room No. 2
Time: 9 a.m.
Pick up a copy of the Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.