Shared Data Helps State Monitor Trends in Prisons

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Members of the Bradford County Prison Board, including (above, clockwise from left) Sheriff CJ Walters, President Judge Maureen Beirne, Commissioner Ed Bustin, Dep. Warden Pete Quattrini, Commissioner Daryl Miller, Warden Don Stewart, and District Attorney Dan Barrett met at the courthouse in Towanda on Nov. 9.

Photo and Story by Rick Hiduk

Bradford County Correctional Facility Warden Don Stewart shared a 10-page report generated by new electronic forms the prison has been using to monitor intakes, committing agencies, transportation, and other aspects of incarceration.

Prison Board members were impressed with the data breakdown, which covered the first 311 days of 2017. For example, of the 1,008 commitments so far this year, 690 of the inmates had been there before. As of Nov. 7, the age group with the most male prisoners was 25-29, with 20-24 and 25-29 close behind. Most of the female inmates are in the 30-34 year old age group.

The prison population in Bradford County is predominantly white (non-Hispanic), with black men representing less than five percent of the number incarcerated, followed by Hispanic males at less that two percent. Of the 33 women currently held in the prison system, two Hispanic women are the only non-white inmates.

The average stay for a sentenced prisoner at the Bradford County Correctional Facility in Burlington is 65.4 days compared to 31.7 days for those without sentences. Stewart had not been able to offer that breakdown with the previous method of record keeping.

The sheriff’s office provides the lion’s share of transportation of prisoners, followed by the Pennsylvania State Police and Adult Probation. Judges Evan Williams III and Maureen Beirne were responsible for most of the commitments in 2017, followed by Bradford County Probation and the district magistrates. Stewart cautioned that the individual magistrate numbers, while fairly even, can be misleading since whatever judge is available on the weekend may process the commitment for those arrested in other districts.

The new statistics, when viewed by the state and compared to other counties, can help to identify trends and possibly help law enforcement be more proactive, Commissioner Ed Bustin remarked. If the number of veterans in the system, just 10 so far this year, were to rise, the prison board could reach out to a specialist on the matter or create a “veterans court,” as some counties have already done, Bustin offered as an example.

According to the monthly report prepared by deputy warden Pete Quattrini, prison population is up slightly to 186 inmates but not as high as some daily figures closer to 200. Eight inmates are currently housed at other institutions. The average number on supervised bail was 78 last month with 13 new placements, including five recommended at the court level, two by district judges, and six by Domestic Relations.

Extraordinary occurrences included inmates M. Searles, B. Coyle, J. Parkhurst, and B. Bailey receiving new charges for fighting and placed in the restricted housing unit. Sgt. Stringham was slightly injured in a scuffle with inmate S. Martin, who was extracted from his cell for refusing to remove his handcuffs. New commitment J. Elliot was placed in a restraint chair due to his intoxicated and combative state.

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