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Many items you would consider as nothing out of the ordinary can cause severe problems inside a correctional facility. When you think of contraband inside a prison you often think of items such as weapons, tools, and drugs and you are right. But this is only a small part of what is considered contraband in the prison. Items such as paper clips, staples, chewing gum, and tobacco are among the items not allowed in the prison.
The prison is a smoke free facility so the inmates are not allowed to posses tobacco in any form nor are they allowed to posses any lighting equipment such as lighters and matches. Paper clips and staples can be used for a multitude of things ranging from being used for tattooing to making picks for locks.
The inmates have 24 hours a day to think of ways to get around the system, and some do all they can to try and get around the system. By restricting what they have access to helps us try to keep ahead of them.
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Operating a correctional facility is not cheap. We have a responsibility to care for the inmate's needs while he is incarcerated in the prison. It costs the taxpayers of Venango County approximately $50 per day or approximately $18,250 per year to house an inmate in the prison.To help off set this cost, several programs have been instituted to make the inmate partially responsible for the cost of housing them. Any inmate on work release has to pay $90 per week for room and board while he is incarcerated in the prison. As you can see, the amount the inmate is charged does not even come close to meeting the actual cost. The idea is to show the inmate that they should be at least partially responsible for the cost of incarcerating them in the prison.Medical expenses are a large amount of the cost in housing an inmate, and we charge the inmate $6 to see the nurse and $8 if they request to see the doctor. We will not deny any medical care to an inmate who is indigent and cannot pay this fee. The reasoning behind this fee is to keep inmates who do not need to see the medical staff from just going and "visiting."
Venango County Prison can house an inmate sentenced to the prison for a period of up to 5 years. Most inmates sentenced to the prison have a maximum sentence of up to 2 years.A sentence of 2 years or longer is typically a sentence served in a state correctional facility, but the sentencing judge has the discretion to sentence an inmate to the prison for a period of up to 5 years.The average length of time an inmate spends in the prison is approximately 60 days. This includes inmates who are brought to the prison and released on bond within a few days, 48 hour driving under the influence (DUI) sentences, and inmates serving a maximum sentence of 5 years in the prison. A median time an inmate stays in the prison is approximately 9 to 12 months.
As a county prison, we handle inmates that are:
Changes in State law provide for the prison to house juveniles who have committed certain criminal offenses and the District Attorney has decided to try as an adult.
There is a difference between the rights that are accorded an inmate and privileges that are granted an inmate. An inmate has certain rights they enjoy from the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These rights the inmate enjoys can not be taken away from the inmate. A few of the rights they have are:
Privileges that an inmate enjoy can be taken away for violations of the Prison rules and regulations. An inmate has several privileges such as:
As you can see, one way you maintain order in a correctional facility is the administration of privileges. It all boils down to if you behave while in the prison you will have several privileges. If you misbehave, you will have some or all of your privileges taken away for a period of time. An infraction of the visitation rules could result in losing visitation privileges for a period of time.
A prison has to have rules and regulations to maintain order and safety. If an inmate violates any of the rules or regulations of the prison, a misconduct is written on the inmate. These misconducts are handled in prison. But if the inmate has committed a crime inside the prison, he could be charged criminally, too.
Sanctions for violating the rules and regulations range from verbal warnings, restriction of privileges, being locked down in his cell for period of time. Also, if an inmate causes problems while awaiting sentence, it could mean additional time or a state sentence instead of a county sentence. If the inmate misbehaves after being sentenced, he could have to spend additional time before he is paroled.
If you treat the inmates fairly and equally, you will, for the most part, have an inmate that will behave himself and not be looking to cause problems.
The Pre-Release Advisory Board (PRAB) was set up by the Honourable Judge H. William White in 1996 to assist him in making decisions on when and how he should parole an inmate sentenced to the prison.
The board meets every two weeks to consider any inmate who has a sentence of over 60 days and is approaching their minimum release date. Several factors are considered by the board when discussing the inmate. Some of these factors include their behavior while incarcerated and any treatment programs recommended by mental health or drug and alcohol personnel. Once we have discussed the inmate's case, a vote is taken and a recommendation is made to the sentencing judge.The sentencing judge then makes a decision based upon the recommendation of PRAB.
When an inmate is incarcerated, any money they have is taken and accounted for. This money is placed into an account where it is available for the inmate’s use. Families and friends can also contribute money to an inmate's account.
The Venango County Prison Board of Inspections has adopted a policy where the inmates are financially responsible for certain services provided by the prison, should they decide to use them. The purpose of this policy is to help them become financially responsible for debts they incur while in the prison and through out their life. Read more about inmate finances and financial responsibility.
The inmates have access to telephones that they may use if they desire to do so. When an inmate is committed to the prison, they are given the opportunity to fill out a phone list of people they wish to be able to call. The inmate is given a personal identification number (PIN) and this number has to match up with the number they are trying to call. The numbers are recorded in a computer and when an inmate makes a phone call they have to enter their PIN and then the person receiving the call has to agree to accept the call.
There are several benefits to using a PIN system, including:
The calls are very similar to collect calls even if they are made to people who live in the local calling area. The rates charged for these calls are comparable to collect call rates. Read more about contacting an inmate with this system.
The County receives a benefit from the inmate telephone system. A percentage of the profit is returned to the inmate's welfare account and items that the County would ordinarily have to pay for with tax dollars can be purchased with this money.