York County mulls using inmate accounts for restitution
YORK — Officials in a central Pennsylvania county are debating whether money should be deducted from the personal accounts of prison inmates to pay money owed to victims and taxpayers.
Inmates at York County Prison, who aren't allowed to carry cash, use the accounts to buy snacks, sweatpants and other items from the commissary as well as paying for haircuts and contributing toward medical costs.
Don O'Shell, the county chief of courts, said the county should deduct a percentage from the accounts to pay court-ordered costs, fines and restitution. He said Westmoreland County Prison began doing that in mid-July and collected close to $15,000 by the end of last month.
“I just see other counties doing it. I hear all kinds of push-back from our facility. ... I know it's not impossible,” O'Shell said, according to the York Daily Record/Sunday News.
O'Shell said the prison could collect $200,000 to $300,000 a year if it deducted 20 to 30 percent, respectively, from such accounts.
The county prison also houses federal immigration detainees, but the proposed changes wouldn't affect them or work release inmates, who already have their wages garnished.
Some officials, however, expressed concern about the idea. Warden Mary Sabol said it could lead to groups being treated differently, spawning security concerns.
Acting solicitor Donald Reihart said deducting money from accounts could lead to family members not putting money into them, but county treasurer Barbara Bair disagreed.
“They'll give more,” she said. “Those family members will step up and give more, because they want Sam to have his haircut or whatever it is.”
York County Commissioner Steve Chronister said the idea would penalize families rather than inmates, and many are likely on government assistance because their provider is behind bars.
“Why don't we just have every family do a fundraiser to pay for their stay in prison?” Chronister said. “... Let's go a little further.”
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.
- Steelers kicker Boswell puts best foot forward
- Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin ends practice with third-down work
- House fire displaces family of 6 in Somerset County
- A few easy steps will keep deer away
- Crosby scores twice, Malkin delivers OT goal as Penguins beat Blues
- Online sales, promotions give Pittsburgh-area stores global reach
- Friends, family, history lure natives back to Western Pennsylvania
- Dormont’s Sugarplum House Tour spotlights 100- to 120-year-old homes
- Auto review: Cadillac CTS-V makes big impression with speed, power, comfort
- ABC’s ‘Scandal’ stuns viewers in season finale