Consultant hired to study jail problem
TOWANDA - The Bradford County commissioners said Thursday that they have chosen a consultant to conduct a study that will recommend ways to reduce the overcrowding at the Bradford County Correctional Facility.
"This is pretty exciting news," Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko said as he announced the plans to hire Miller.
The county will hire Rod Miller of Gettysburg to conduct a study of Bradford County's criminal justice system - which will involve interviewing employees in the system and collecting data - in order to recommend ways to reduce the overcrowding at the jail, said Bradford County Commissioner Daryl Miller.
McLinko said the Bradford County commissioners met last week with Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel, who told them that Miller "is one of the best in the nation who does this kind of work."
Wetzel said that Miller "would give us a good report," according to McLinko.
The county will pay Rod Miller $20,000 to do the study, the commissioners said.
The commissioners will take a formal vote at their meeting on Thursday, Sept. 20 to hire Rod Miller, McLinko said.
In a related matter, research staff from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections will be working with Rod Miller to examine the effects that the Marcellus Shale gas drilling boom has had on Bradford County's criminal justice system, especially the population at the jail, McLinko said.
The research staff will be determining, for example, the size of the increase in the jail's population that resulted from the gas boom, which increased the county's population significantly, Daryl Miller said.
The results from the Marcellus Shale section of the study would help the county prepare if the pace of drilling were to return to the level that had existed in the county last year, McLinko said.
The Marcellus Shale research will also help other Pennsylvania counties when they experience an increase in Marcellus Shale drilling, McLinko said.
Rod Miller is president of the non-profit corporation, Community Resource Sevices Inc., which will do the study.
Rod Miller has done studies of criminal justice systems across the country, including studies to plan the size of additions to jails and studies to find ways to reduce overcrowding at jails, Daryl Miller said.
The county had advertised for proposals from companies that were interested in doing the study, and two proposals, including Miller's, were submitted to the county, Bradford County Chief Clerk Michelle Shedden said.
The other proposal was submitted by Carter Goble Lee of Chicago, Ill., which would have charged the county $80,000, county officials said.
In the past, Rod Miller had written books with Wetzel, McLinko said. Wetzel had provided the Bradford County commissioners with a list of companies that he recommended to study the county's criminal justice system.
To add more beds at the jail, the Bradford County commissioners had been considering converting the jail's gym to a housing unit. However, any decision on whether to go forward with the conversion will not be made until there are results available from the study of the county's criminal justice system, the commissioners have said.
In a July 7 letter to the Bradford County commissioners, Rod Miller said he would be available to start the study as soon as August 2012 and that it might take his company four to five months to complete the study.
Due to the jail's overpopulation, the county has had to house some of its excess prisoners in the Tioga County Prison and at the Wayne County Prison.
Several years ago, the county had a study done of the county's criminal justice system, which also looked at overcrowding, that was done through the County Commissioners' Association of Pennsylvania. But McLinko criticized the CCAP study, saying, "sometimes you get what you paid for."
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.