MIFFLINTOWN - The Juniata County Prison Board has suspended the remainder of its meetings for 2012.
The board held its last meeting Monday morning, but it will fall to the Juniata County Commissioners on whether to officially dissolve the board.
Juniata County Prison officially stopped housing inmates on July 25 and under a contract signed with Mifflin County Commissioners, Juniata County inmates are now housed at the Mifflin County Correctional Facility. The prison employed 21 people at the time it was closed.
In the past, the Juniata County Commissioners have cited safety and security concerns, as well as high costs, as reasons for closing the prison.
Commissioner Teresa O'Neal said she remains the contact person for those at the Mifflin County Correctional Facility who have questions regarding Juniata County inmates. There are currently 38 Juniata County inmates being housed at MCCF.
O'Neal said MCCF Warden Bernard Zook has expressed an interest in attending Juniata County Criminal Justice Advisory Board meetings to maintain an open line of communication and keep the board informed.
After the meeting was adjourned, O'Neal said the van purchased for the Juniata County Sheriff's department to transport prisoners, may be ready within a couple weeks.
O'Neal said she has been in contact with representatives from the Penn State Justice and Safety Institute in recent weeks and hopes to explore the possibility of having them evaluate the criminal justice system in the county.
O'Neal said the institute would evaluate everything and make recommendations for the future.
Commissioner Jeffrey Zimmerman said the county has received its first bill from Mifflin County to house the inmates.
O'Neal said the bill was $37,141 and $1,560 of that was for medical expenses that she feels were overcharged to Juniata County.
O'Neal said she was under the impression that medical costs would be covered under the $55 a day per inmate Juniata County is currently charged to house inmates at the MCCF.
O'Neal said typically in the correctional industry, the cost per inmate per day covers medical costs.
Under the agreement, inmates will be housed at a cost of $55 per day per inmate. That rate will increase to $62 per day in 2013, $65 in 2014, $68 in 2015 and $70 in 2016. There is a clause built into the contract that allows Juniata County to rescind the agreement with one year's notice if the county decides to renovate the existing prison or build a new one.
O'Neal and Zimmerman feel there has been cost savings in housing inmates at MCCF.
In moving forward, O'Neal was quick to point out that closing the prison was not the end of the discussion, the criminal justice system needs to be reviewed for the any future demands that may be put on the county.
Prison Board members present for Monday's meeting were, Zimmerman, O'Neal, Juniata County District Attorney Cory Snook, Treasurer Sandra King and Sheriff Tom Lyter. Commissioner Bob Reynolds and President Judge Kathy A. Morrow were not in attendance.