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York County Prison cuts staff amid steep drop in number of immigration detainees

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

York County is reducing the number of staff at York County Prison to make up for lost revenue resulting from a dwindling population of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees, county officials confirmed Thursday.

The cuts will likely be a combination of early retirement options, furloughs and the elimination of vacant positions, said county spokesperson Mark Walters.

The total number of employees who will be affected is still up in the air, he said.

In a written statement Thursday, Warden Clair Doll said the average daily population of county inmates and federal ICE detainees had decreased by about 500 per day since January, resulting in a loss of operating revenue.

"Like many other organizations throughout York County and across Pennsylvania, we had to make difficult decisions to ensure the county comes out of this pandemic as strong as possible and still maintains a secure and safe prison operation," Doll said.

As of May 31, the daily average ICE population at the prison for 2020 was 399 detainees, Walters said.

In 2019, the average was 670 detainees, and in 2018, it was 729 detainees.

The general county population of nonimmigration detainees has also decreased, Walters said.

Based on its contract with York County Prison, the federal government pays the county for each bed occupied by an immigration detainee at the prison. 

In 2018, ICE paid York County $27.2 million for housing prisoners.

York County Prison in Springettsbury Township, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016.

Among the more than 200 ICE-authorized detention facilities in the country, York County Prison's 800-person capacity ranks 22nd.

Some of the furloughs have already been implemented, Doll said, and the cuts will affect employees in several areas of the prison, including treatment, management, support and security.

Details were not available Thursday about how much money the county would be cutting from the budget with the staff cuts.

The union representative for Teamsters Local 776, which represents York County Prison employees, was not immediately available for comment.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show that Warden Clair Doll stated the average daily populations of York County inmates and federal ICE detainees have both decreased since January 2020.

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