CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield County Jail is looking into getting new scanners capable of more detailed results in an attempt to stop drugs from being smuggled into the facility.
During Tuesday’s prison board meeting, Harold Walstrom whose step-daughter recently died from a drug overdose while incarcerated, was in attendance again, hoping for more information on the investigation.
Warden David Gallagher said they compiled all of the available information and video footage on the incident and supplied it to law enforcement.
District Attorney Ryan Sayers noted that he couldn’t comment on the ongoing investigation by the Clearfield Regional police, but something should be happening soon. He added that before any charges are filed, Walstrom and his wife will be notified.
“We want to be as transparent with the public as possible,” President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman said, adding that legal issues often don’t proceed as quickly as people wish they would.
Walstrom commented that he is concerned that no steps are being taken to make sure this never happens again.
Ammerman echoed Walstrom’s comments from last month’s meeting, that he felt his daughter was “safe” at the jail.
Walstrom responded that they thought once she was incarcerated, that this would be an opportunity for her “to turn her life around” and get treatment.
“I’m sorry but the system failed: failed miserably,” he said.
Commissioner Mary Tatum explained that the scanners at the jail are being checked and there are plans to get better options, “ones that really work.”
Commissioner Dave Glass added that they are trying to do things at the jail that will “make a difference.”
Ammerman reassured Walstrom that he will get any information he is entitled to receive.
The board also discussed the cost of medical treatment at the jail.
Controller Robert Edwards reported that the 2023 budget is in line where it should be at this point. He stated medical costs are higher but wages are lower.
Glass noted that today’s inmates are sicker, both mentally and physically.
Ammerman agreed saying “nothing is like it was 10 years ago.”
Because the services are being outsourced, Glass said it is a relief because the county no longer has to worry about whether there will be a nurse at the jail or not.
He also mentioned it is better that the corrections officers are not the ones giving out medications, as in the past, which was a liability for the county.
Part of the costs is the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program, which the jail is required to provide if someone is already in a treatment program when they are incarcerated.
Ammerman noted that they are ineligible for the service if they are jailed on drug charges or test positive for illegal substances.
Glass stated that although MAT is expensive, it can help people get off drugs, ensuring they don’t become “frequent flyers” at the prison.
“There will be savings we won’t see” as a result of the program, he said.
In other business:
- It was noted that the staff is still short four COs, the average daily inmate count was 174 in July and three people are participating in the work release program with four more waiting to be approved.
- The issue of a system to alert the public regarding escapes from the jail was mentioned briefly. Glass said he wants to sit down with personnel from the 911 Center, the warden and others so they will be “on the same page” regarding the best way to handle this release of information to residents.