HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Should Pennsylvania be doing more to prevent prison escapes?
House Republicans say yes and have offered several bills to aid counties. They are introducing five bills, including more money for prison upgrades and harsh penalties for those who try to bust out.
Three recent high-profile escapes, with the latest Danelo Cavalcante in State Representative Craig Williams’ district. Williams’ bill would steer money to improve prison infrastructure like heating and air conditioning, pay more for training, and boost officer salaries.
“To help with the facility in such a way that it lifts the spirits of local corrections officers. This is a tough pipeline to recruit people into. One thing we can do is make it a pleasant working environment, not only for the corrections officers but for the inmates, because their their discomfort is part of what’s driving them right now,” Rep. Williams (R-Chester/Deleware) said.
Other bills would create an amber alert to notify residents of an escape, eliminate parole for escapees, and have the state review prisons that experience them.
State Representative Sheryl Delozier’s bill would let counties use state prison correction officers to fill vacant shifts. That currently only happens in emergencies.
“Why not say to some of them, do you want to earn a couple extra dollars and work some overtime at the local county jail and have that capability to say we can work together?” Rep. Delozier (R-Cumberland) said.
John Bey has oversight of Dauphin County’s prison. He’s encouraged that escapes are motivating the legislature to promise more but have they done enough previously to prevent them?
“Whether they’ve been helpful enough, that’s not for me to say, because certainly we take the resources that we have and the manpower that we have and make it work. And we always have and we always will. But I think the state now recognizes that there needs to be more,” Bey said.