Pa. county prison officials see spike in overtime costs

An increase of inmate hospital stays has Cambria County Prison corrections officers working numerous overtime shifts

By Jocelyn Brumbaugh
The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

EBENSBURG, Pa. — An increase of inmate hospital stays has Cambria County Prison corrections officers working numerous overtime shifts, according to Warden Christian Smith.

During a regular Cambria County Prison Board meeting held Wednesday morning at the Manor Drive facility, Smith explained the spike in costs associated with supervision of inmates needing medical attention.

In April, the prison incurred more than $35,000 in overtime costs to assign two corrections officers to supervise a U.S. Marshals Service inmate for 24 hours per day. In the first week of May, supervision of that inmate has cost anywhere from $7,000 to $8,000 in overtime costs of the $12,000 total spent on corrections officer overtime shifts.

U.S. Marshals Service inmates require around-the-clock supervision by two corrections officers, Smith said, and the county will be reimbursed for those overtime costs.

However, the county will have to cover an additional $23,500 in overtime costs accrued in April for county inmates, which require constant supervision by at least one corrections officer if there are no special security concerns.

Depending on the charges county inmates are facing, Smith said prison officials try to work with the courts to get approval for furlough or releasing inmates on their own recognizance to ensure they get the proper medical care and to alleviate overtime costs.

In some cases, that’s just not possible, Smith said, and the overtime costs become something that’s out of his control.

“We’re mandated to provide care to them,” he said.

“There’s not a lot we can do.”

This is not the first time the prison has seen an influx of inmates experiencing medical issues, causing an increase in overtime costs.

At a prison board meeting last June, Smith reported 19 inmates requiring hospitalization for a variety of issues over a little more than two months, resulting in more than 200 eight-hour overtime shifts for county corrections officers.

©2018 The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, Pa.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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