Photo and Story by Rick Hiduk
Members of the Bradford County Prison Board, including (clockwise from left) Sheriff CJ Walters, Commissioner Mark Smith, Deputy Warden Pete Quatrinni, Solicitor Jonathan Foster, Commissioner Daryl Miller, Warden Don Stewart, Judge Maureen Beirne and (not pictured) District Attorney Dan Barrett met at the courthouse in Towanda on Thursday.
After being forced to board out extra inmates to other counties at a significant cost for more than a year, prison population at the Bradford County Correctional Facility (BCCF) has held at appreciably manageable levels since the fall. Nonetheless, Warden Don Stewart cautioned that the county is not necessarily free from having to pay to keep prisoners in other facilities.
“Population at the jail is something that you can’t predict,” he said in response to questions from Daily Review reporter James Lowenstein. “There will always be fluctuations.”
The supervised bail program, which began in October, has helped, he agreed, but severely cold winter weather might also be keeping would-be criminals indoors. Stewart also brushed off the reporter’s notion that prison population might be lower because there are less out-of-state gas workers in the area, noting that he doesn’t monitor the ebb and flow of influx.
As of Thursday, there were 133 men at BCCF and 23 women. Four inmates are in state facilities at no cost to the county.
Stewart also acknowledged the hiring of eight new corrections officers; B. Bumbaco, C. Hadgdon, M. Hurley, J. Mayers, B. Sawtell, M. Scott, J. Stanley, and C. Terrell. They are currently in their first week of training, the warden related.
A male inmate, last name Bump, was responsible for three reported extraordinary occurrences at the prison during the previous week. Bump had to be extracted from his cell on Jan. 2, 4, and 6 for damaging county property and threatening to harm himself. Stewart noted that Pennsylvania State Police were summoned and additional charges will be filed against Bump.
In a separate incident, dated Dec. 23, 2013, male inmate T. Mosier allegedly assaulted inmate J. Jackson, who was treated for injuries.
On January 27, BCCF corrections officers will begin a training program with corrections officers in Susquehanna County that is expected to take about a week. Stewart previously indicated that all of his officers would be involved in the exercise.
In unfinished business, the policy that would make possession of tobacco by anybody on prison property a chargeable offense is still on hold as the measure has yet to be publicly advertised. County Chief Clerk Michelle Shedden related that the advertisement would be done over the next week and the county commissioners will likely grant approval of the policy at their next public meeting on Thursday, Jan. 23.
In a perfunctory move, the board members voted unanimously to retain Sheriff CJ Walters and Commissioner Doug McLinko as chair and co-chair of the prison board, respectively.
The Bradford County Prison Board will meet again on Thursday, Feb. 13.