Juvenile prisoners present issues for jails
The arrest of 16-year-old Alex Hribal for his alleged knife rampage at Franklin Regional Senior High School on April 9 has Westmoreland County officials concerned that the prison is ill-prepared to deal with juveniles charged as adults.
Almost immediately after Hribal's arrest for slashing and stabbing 19 students and a security guard, a court order was signed to transfer the teen to the county juvenile detention center in Hempfield.
Officials said a federal law, the Prison Rape Elimination Act, requires jails to keep juveniles completely segregated from adults while incarcerated.
Warden John Walton said on Monday he does not have space available to meet the requirements of the law under regulations adopted in May 2012.
“I don't want to be in violation of the law, no matter how stupid I think it is,” Walton said following a meeting of the county's prison board.
Hribal, a sophomore, is charged with four counts of attempted homicide, 21 counts of aggravated assault and one count of possession of a weapon on school property.
He may have to be housed at the county prison for a short period of time if he eventually is convicted in adult court, Walton said. If the case reached that point, he would be awaiting transfer into the state prison system, officials said.
County officials have no plans to create space forjuveniles in the prison in Hempfield. The county has opted to transfer all juveniles out of the facility and into the Regional Youth Services Center.
Last week, the jail sought and received permission to move two teens, ages 16 and 17, who are charged with robbery, to the juvenile detention center. Both are charged as adults.
In the past, the jail has slowly integrated teens with the adult inmates.
“I could put them in a place for 23 of 24 hours a day, but that doesn't put us in compliance,” Walton said. District Attorney John Peck told prison board members that it could be a year or longer before Hribal's case is completed.
Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey is expected to request that Hribal's case be transferred to juvenile court.
“There is going to be a psychological evaluation, and it will take time to gather school records before it is determined if he is tried in juvenile court,” Peck said. “That could take at least six months.”
His preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 30 at the courthouse.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Dining at Applebee’s helps Jacobs Creek Area Faith in Action
- H&M to open in Westmoreland Mall
- Greensburg still fighting waterlogged Lynch Field, may add drainage
- Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, Youngwood discuss sewage system sale
- Witnesses recount Franklin Regional stabbing
- Youngwood officials defend rules for rentals
- Bill to name interchange for fallen Youngwood firefighter advances
- Westmoreland County Judge Regoli has 5 days to decide on whether he’ll ask for recount
- Southwest Greensburg council opts to hold line on taxes in 2016
- Westmoreland County, Mt. Pleasant Borough officials try to solve Willow parking issue
- Sounds of Christmas coming to Fay-West region