New prison taking shape in Northumberland County

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Nov 20, 2017 4:33 AM

(Harrisburg) -- Walls are going up on Northumberland County's new prison. 

The county has been without its prison since a fire destroyed the facility in Sunbury nearly three years ago.

Progress on the new building in Coal Township is now visible, but there's still a long way to go.

"It's something where, you know, we had stuff on paper, we had the floor in, but we really didn't see any actual vision of what the prison was going to look like--well, now it's starting to take shape," said county commissioner Sam Schiccatano.

Construction crews have started moving ready-made cells into position at the site.

Schiccatano said the goal is to have all outside construction and renovation to an existing building done by early January so crews can work inside over the winter.

He said once the work is finished, it will take some time to move inmates from their temporary locations and train guards.

"I think we're in probably six different county jails right now that we would have to transport them, we'd also have to hire a lot of new guards that are not working at this time because, of course, we have them outsourced to different prisons," he said.

Schiccatano said he hopes to move inmates back by September 2018.

The county is spending an average of $68 per inmate per day to house them in other facilities.

Schiccatano said the county may be able to recoup some of that cost by offering bed space to other counties. The new prison will have over 280 beds, though there are currently only about 200 inmates from Northumberland County. 

Schiccatano is also hopeful that, with new drug treatment programs, the prison won't just house criminals, but rehabilitate people and help them live better lives once they are released. 

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