Are layoffs imminent? What about the extra space? Questions linger as York County's ICE contract nears end

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

Local officials expect extra space — but no extra employees — at the York County Prison after a federal ICE contract ends next month.

Currently, 468 employees work at the prison in roles ranging from correctional officers to maintenance workers, according to Warden Adam Ogle. 

More:County official: After nearly 30 years, ICE ends contract with York prison

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Although the Aug. 12 end of the contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement means the prison will lose millions of dollars of revenue, that should not affect the number of employees, he said.

"We do not anticipate layoffs at this time," Ogle said in an email July 7.

More:PHOTOS: CASA members react after ICE ends nearly 30-year contract with York County Prison

Attempts to reach Teamsters Local Union 776, which represents York County Prison employees, were not successful.

Although the ICE contract brought in $18.3 million last year, Ogle wrote, the county also incurred expenses while housing federal immigration detainees, "such as food, medical, utilities, staff supervision, programming, etc."

"The expenditures associated with housing those detainees will be eliminated," he noted. "Therefore, the overall budget for those expenditures will likely decrease."

The ICE detainee population varied, but Ogle said detainees made up approximately 25% to 30% of the population on any given day. As of Tuesday, county spokesperson Mark Walters said, 179 detainees were at the prison.

County Commissioner Doug Hoke, who is also president of the county prison board, said the county is reviewing the prison's more than $70 million budget.

"I do believe that the revenue coming in and the expenses will offset a lot of that," he said. "I do not foresee a major impact." 

Warden Ogle, Hoke and others reiterated at a prison board meeting Wednesday that there would not be layoffs.

In fact, Ogle said he would likely be looking to hire an additional 13 employees. 

"As the warden just said, there are 13 additional officers that he would need to bring on," York County Sheriff Rich Keuerleber said at the meeting. "We need to send a clear message to the staff there, nobody's going to be losing their jobs." 

Ogle said both he and the board of commissioners had been visiting the prison to reassure staff that they would not be losing their jobs. "Every staff member is valued and needed at this point."  

More:Tears, chants as CASA celebrates end of ICE contract at York County Prison

Another question is what will happen to the space currently occupied by ICE and the detainees. 

Ogle said the county plans to utilize the ICE space and is in the planning stages.

The county provides space at the prison for agencies such as York County Probation Services, Drug and Alcohol, Reentry Coalition and the county's Mental Health, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities program.

"Having them inside of our facility streamlines these services and renders them much more effective for helping incarcerated individuals successfully transition into the community," Ogle said.

"We have a lot of options for the remaining space, but we are taking the time to explore them to determine what is best suited for the overall mission of the prison and the needs of our local community."