The jail doesn't have enough room to house inmates from other counties.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The Lawrence County Jail is in danger of running a deficit because it is too full with county inmates.
County prison board members say don't have enough room to house inmates from other counties who were expected to generate about $1 million in revenue this year for the county.
"We have some budget problems, and there is nothing in the contingency to make up for this" loss in revenue, said Lawrence County Commissioner Ed Fosnaught, a prison board member.
The county earned $1.4 million from other counties last year by housing their inmates in the jail and expected to get about $1 million this year from those other counties, officials said.
But last month the county generated only about $18,000 from out-of-county inmates -- far below the county's target of $90,000 per month, Fosnaught said.
Other counties pay about $55 per day for each inmate they house in Lawrence County, and last year the county jail averaged about 50 out-of-county inmates per day, prison board members said.
As of Wednesday, only 13 of the 256 inmates were from other counties, Warden William Hall said. The warden noted that the jail is over capacity by about 30 inmates and was built to house about 215 to 220 people.
Hall said the number of Lawrence County inmates has grown steadily over the last few months, and the reasons vary. Some are parole violators, others are serving county sentences and others are sent to jail for domestic-related violations, he said.
Prison board member Judge Ralph Pratt suggested they look into giving more house arrest sentences for Lawrence County inmates to free up space for other counties.
District Attorney Matthew Mangino said he would consider it, but he didn't want to commit to anything.
"Our position in the district attorney's office is that there isn't anybody in jail that shouldn't be," he said.
Prison board president Brian Burick said he will check jail finances over the last few months to determine if there has been a sharp decrease in out-of-county inmates and how it will affect the jail's overall budget.