State inspection raises issues with York County Prison's showers

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York County officials are racing to make repairs to the York County Prison's showers after an inspection by the state Department of Corrections identified them as deficient.

State inspectors issued preliminary findings March 9 that identified issues with the showers. On Wednesday, the York County Prison Board of Inspectors signed off on a nearly $300,000 contract with Lobar Associates to do the work.

“It’s just an aging building,” York County Prison Warden Adam Ogle said.

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Ogle said the county received the bids Tuesday, after the board’s agenda had been filed — forcing the board to take up the contract at the last minute.

“We knew ahead of time, we were waiting on bids to come back,” he said. “I reached out to the Department of Corrections to get an extension.”

Ogle declined to provide details on what other changes the Department had recommended, citing security concerns. The York Dispatch's previous attempts to obtain inspection reports via the Right to Know Law have been unsuccessful.

York County Prison in Springettsbury Township Monday, August, 24, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

The board also approved an official memorandum of understanding with the YWCA to provide free services to inmates impacted by violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

Valerie Conway, deputy warden of centralized services, said that the YWCA already had been providing these services to the prison through a verbal agreement.

“We just never had a formal MOU, so this is just a formality,” Conway said.

If needed, a YWCA victim advocate will meet confidentially with inmates at the prison, which includes informing inmates about services in the community that can help.

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The prison will also be participating in a nationwide survey on sexual victimization performed by the Bureau of Criminal Statistics after its approval Wednesday.

Ogle said the survey was related to the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 and that it was the first time the prison would be a part of the survey.

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The surveys are anonymous, Conway said. They include surveys about community sexual assault and how York County Prison is doing.

“They don’t know which inmate gets which survey,” Conway said.

The Prison Board also met in executive session to discuss legal evaluation of future operations in the prison. Ogle said he couldn't comment further due to the restrictions of executive session.

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.