York County officials on Tuesday announced the York County Prison will furlough about 90 male work-release inmates for 72 hours later this week so exterminators can kill bedbugs there.
The inmates will be allowed to go home or stay with friends or family. The bedbugs are believed to have been brought into the work-release housing by a prisoner or prisoners, county officials said.
Work-release prisoners are "minimum-security offenders who require the lowest level of supervision," officials said in a news release. "They are already permitted by a judge to leave the facility for employment purposes, and sometimes receive individual furloughs to attend funerals and other events."
The furlough has been approved by the York County Court of Common Pleas and will take place between Thursday and Sunday mornings, with prisoners moving back in on Sunday, said county spokesman Carl Lindquist.
Bedbugs have not been found inside the main prison building, but are isolated to several work-release trailers located outside the main facility, officials said.
About 150 male prisoners live in the work-release housing. The 90 prisoners being permitted to leave are employed with private companies, Lindquist said, while the remaining 60 work for the county in some capacity and will be moved to different locations within the facility as necessary to permit the extermination, Lindquist said.
The furlough does not affect female work-release prisoners, the county said in the release.
Lindquist said the bugs were first reported to prison staff about two weeks ago and were initially believed to be isolated to one area.
"Prison staff responded by conducting a localized extermination," the county said. "Subsequent inspection by a professional exterminator determined a broader presence of the bugs than initially discovered."
Bunks will be dismantled and sprayed by an exterminator. Prisoners must report back to the prison at the scheduled time on Sunday or face a bench warrant, Lindquist said.
Typically harmless: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bedbugs "are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep."
The reddish-brown bugs are traditionally seen as a problem in developing countries, though it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States.
They've been found "in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found," according to the CDC.
Infestations usually occur near areas where people sleep. Bedbugs should not be considered as a medical or public health hazard and are not known to spread disease, according to the CDC.
They can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Bite responses range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite to a serious allergic reaction and, while bedbugs are not considered dangerous, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.
Trailers moving: Most work-release prisoners stay in the multiple trailers installed in 2000, but a new facility is expected to open by the end of the year.
The county is renovating and plans to move about 150 male and 50 female work release inmates into the former Service Tire Truck Center, a 36,000-square-foot building at 3403 Concord Road, across the street from the Springettsbury Township prison. There will be excess capacity there, with 300 beds.
Crews are expected to remove multiple trailers by Dec. 31, county officials have said.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at email@example.com.