What is going on in Pennsylvania’s prisons and jails?

Something is rotten in the state of corrections. In the last three days, the following news story have hit the streets:

Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Study: Drugs, sex in Beaver County jail

A private investigation firm says the Beaver County Jail is tainted by sex, drugs and violence and that guards are involved in all three.

The findings range from a female guard having sex with a male inmate inside the jail, to a guard providing OxyContin to an accused killer, to an inmate being doused with water and left out in the cold for 45 minutes.

The Patriot News: Jury finds inmate not guilty of assault

Somehow, an inmate was acquitted in a case in which he allegedly assaulted a guard, which caught a lot of us by surprise. Then again, the crime “victim” strapped the “perpetrator” into a chair and maced him while four of his buddies stood nearby. That’s not exactly a sympathetic victim.

This follows on the heels of an increase in allegations of abuse of inmates by guards at Dauphin County Prison. The ACLU of PA has joined a coalition called County Prison Watch to address these issues.

AP: Judge lets prison rape suit advance

“Plaintiff paints a disturbing picture,” U.S. District Judge Sean McLaughlin found. “She alleges during the time period at issue, SCI-Cambridge Springs was a virtual haven of sexual activity between Department of Corrections employees and inmates.”

McLaughlin found enough credible evidence in depositions and documents collected to order June 25 that the prison case should continue and be heard by a jury.

Many people will respond that lawbreakers deserve what they get in prison. That lack of vision fails to see that an overwhelming majority of inmates will one day be back in our communities. What kind of people do we want re-entering society? Do we want them to be prepared for life on the outside? Or do we want people who have been further exposed to the cycle of violence and degradation, which makes it all the more likely that the cycle will continue spinning downward and land them back in jail?

Corrections is one of the Commonwealth’s biggest budget items. What other services are neglected because of our leaders’ lack of vision in dealing with our prisons and jails?

Andy in Harrisburg

3 thoughts on “What is going on in Pennsylvania’s prisons and jails?

  1. on july 7 2007 at the springetsberry township police station in a holding cell. My son Ronald Whitaker Jr was shot in the back, after trying to hang himself, by officer Gary D S Utter. The District attorney of york county said shooting him in the back was justified.my son was running away from the officer. My son was unarmed. WHERE IS THE AMERICAN JUSTICE SYSTEM. HELP US PLEASE.

  2. ISN”T THE ACLU interested after the person is MURDERED IN A HOLDING CELL .Ronald Whitaker JR”s LIFE was taken by a cowardly cop ,Who lost controll of himself. PATROLMAN GARY D S UTTER is a cold blooded MURDER

  3. on july 7 2007 at the springetsberry township police station in a holding cell. My son Ronald Whitaker Jr was shot in the back, after trying to hang himself, by officer Gary D S Utter. The District attorney of york county said shooting him in the back was justified.my son was running away from the officer. My son was unarmed. WHERE IS THE AMERICAN JUSTICE SYSTEM. HELP US PLEASE.

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