Pa. County Jail Overcrowded; Critic Cites “Crisis”


Elizabeth White, 7-1/2 months pregnant, is jammed with two other inmates into a space designed for one person in the Chester County, Pa. Prison, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. But she gets the bottom bed in the three-tiered bunk. Inmates and prison advocates say record overcrowding at the prison – an oft-delayed expansion is promised to begin next month – is a crisis getting inadequate attention from county officials. The estimated $32 million addition will add 250 beds to the prison and its adjacent work-release center, which were designed to hold 641. This week the prison and center have housed as many as 914 inmates – more than ever.

Donald Mancini, a county commissioner and head of the prison board, said he believed the situation was under control. But Mancini announced yesterday that a plan to add 21 correctional officers over the next several months will be implemented right away. Alexine Atherton, who monitors the prison twice a week for the Pennsylvania Prison Society, called it “a crisis situation.” Bunks are set up in a former library and a supply room. The Rev. Jack Crans, the prison chaplain, said, Is it crowded? Yes. Is it out of control? No. Is it caring? Absolutely.”


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