News

Northumberland County prison visitation policy changed

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Apr 1, 2014 2:01 PM

(Sunbury) -- The visitation policies at a midstate county prison are changing, and it's all because of Miranda Barbour.

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Face to face visits for anyone who didn't know the inmate before they were incarcerated at the Northumberland County prison are out.

Instead, members of the media and others will have to communicate through letters or via the phone.

County Commissioner Rick Shoch says when Miranda Barbour claimed to have killed at least 22 people, media requests overwhelmed prison staff.

He says between 40 and 50 requests came in nearly immediately after the story hit the national press. Shoch specifically singled out the Dr. Phil show, who he says had a producer visiting "every hour, on the hour."

"It was really more from the standpoint of the staff who would have to be screening and doing the searches and so forth for people taking up their time."

Shock says staff is also responsible for transporting inmates to court and maintaining order in the prison.

The policy does not affect an inmate's friends, relatives, or attorneys.

"If you wouldn't qualify as a visitor for the visitation list, you ask them to contact you via telephone," says Shoch.

"And that person, when they have their telephone time privileges if they want to use their telephone time to talk with members of the media, that's their choice. They can do that."

Shoch acknowledges it may be a challenge to verify an inmate had a previous relationship with each visitor they request, but expressed confidence in the new policy.

The change is also meant to end visits from those who develop an attachment to an inmate, but never knew them before they were in jail.

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