Participants in the first Wyoming County Prison Board meeting of 2020 included (clockwise, from right) county clerk Bill Gaylord, district attorney Jeff Mitchell, warden Ken Repsher, public defender Tim Michaels, solicitor Paul Litwin III, and commissioners Tom Henry, Rick Wilbur, and Ernie King. Deputy warden Gordon Traveny is seated at far left. Judge Russell Shurtleff was absent.
Photo and story by Rick Hiduk
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A brief first meeting of new Wyoming County Prison Board was conducted prior to the commissioners meeting on Tuesday. County commissioner Rick Wilbur presided as the new chairman.
According to warden Ken Repsher, prison population is down coming into the new year, with only two individuals housed in other facilities due to security concerns. Repsher attributed the decrease to linking more potential intakes with available drug and alcohol resources.
“The jail is still taking point on getting people into rehab,” Repsher stated via email afterward. “Too many were falling through the cracks. People who needed the help were not getting it.”
Two new positions relevant to a half-million grant received in 2019 via a joint effort by district attorney Jeff Mitchell and public defender Tim Michaels should continue to improve the situation, but Repsher was unaware of any progress on that initiative.
Nonetheless, with December’s data not yet factored in, the cost for outsourcing of inmates was $77,245. “That’s lower than last year,” Wilbur noted. “We’re heading in the right direction.”
Repsher was happy to report that implementation of the Guardian RFID software system is nearly complete after months of wrangling with vendors to work out a lot of bugs. The software is designed specifically for prisons to help monitor the comings and goings of inmates and their often unique circumstances.
“A lot of things that we did before on paper can now be done on the computer,” Repsher related.
In addition to guaranteeing that prisoners on medical or suicide watches are being checked with the prescribed frequency, the Guardian system alerts prison staff when an inmate who is about to released is still under a protection from abuse (PFA) order so that the appropriate people on the outside can be notified of the release.
During the commissioners meeting that followed the hiring of four corrections officers – Danielle Hue, David Gavek, Brandon Harris, and Ellis Ingham – was unanimously approved. Hue and Gavek started work on Monday, and the other two will begin work on Feb. 10 – each at a starting wage of $14 per hour.
The commissioners noted that the prison remains short one corrections officer.