To the editor:
Again, the subject of the Juniata County Prison is on my heart and I see in today's paper that on July 3, the final decision for the future of our prison may in fact, be made.
On the website known as County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania you can find a listing of the board of directors and committees under the heading "About CCAP." It is interesting to me to find that Teresa O'Neal is listed on two committees as well as the board of directors. The two other member names of the Juniata County Commissioners were not to be found.
Mrs. O'Neal chairs the Committee of Courts and Corrections. They are "responsible for development, consideration and advocacy of all legislation and regulations relating to county jails and judicial issues."
Because of this chair position she also sits on the board of directors.
She also sits on the committee known as Military and Veterans Affairs Task Force. This committee has responsibilities as well but since they do not pertain to this issue I will not list them.
From this page it appears as if Mrs. O'Neal has the opportunity to not only affect her own county jail but the entire state county jail system. That outrightly frightens me. What if she would persuade every county in the state that the best thing to do is to close the county prisons and just allow the state to house prisoners. As can be verified by Pennsylvania documents, the state is so over-housed now that they are actually paying the counties to house non violent prisoners within the county prisons. There are several county prisons in the state that have made a large profit from housing these state prisoners.
And, yet it appears as if the county commissioners of Juniata County continue to be determined to outsource their prisoners to other areas. Has anyone looked at what outsourcing has done to our great nation? We have suffered and continue to suffer greatly. The U.S.A. has become something few of us would have ever dreamed could happen. So what makes these county commissioners think it will be any different here in our county by outsourcing the services we provide?
Since the committee Mrs. O'Neal chairs is also responsible for judicial issues will she be determined to close the court house as well and have all judicial issues outsourced too? Will they then decide to outsource our Emergency Communications Center because it is the next largest budget item that needs to be curbed? Maybe they will decide to stop supporting our fire and EMS services as well. I could list more but will refrain because it is redundant. Where will it stop?
These current commissioners have a three-year window of service that they could completely dissolve our entire county if they choose to do so. What did we do by voting for them? Truthfully, I am surprised at the outcome of this board of commissioners. I voted for two of them because my perception was that they were thinking of the future and could look beyond the end of their own noses. The other one not so much. Wow, was I proved wrong. Some of this group seem to be sheep and not the leaders we anticipated.
So Juniata County what are you going to do? Sit on your bump and allow these three to begin the demise of our community or communicate your thoughts?
Contact the commissioners (as found on the website for Juniata County)
Jeffrey M. Zimmerman, Chairperson
Robert N. Reynolds, Vice Chairperson
Teresa J. O'Neal, Secretary
The weekly meeting is at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 3, in the Commissioners Conference Room at 26 N. Main St., Mifflintown in the Bousum Building.
Connie L Kerstetter