SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) – Leadership roles are changing at the Lackawanna County Prison.
This comes after years of being “ineffective”. For the first time since last year, the salary board met virtually. At Tuesday night’s meeting, it was a unanimous vote to change the way the prison is operated.
Lackawanna County Prison houses 565 inmates and more than 200 employees. In the past year county officials discovered years of leadership, security, inmate rehabilitation and contraband issues.
“We didn’t have a good structure at the top. We had a warden, deputy warden and then it kind of fell apart from there,” said Debi Domenick, (D) Lackawanna County Commissioner.
To make things better, Domenick and the salary board approved to restructure the jail. There will now be three deputy wardens for operations, security and treatment. Plus, sheriff deputies will now guard the reception area for better work-place safety with visitors.
“It’s getting worse and worse and worse and they had an incident with on former inmate who came for a visit and you know they are worried because they do not have arresting powers and they don’t carry guns,” said Domenick.
During Domenick’s campaign for commissioner more than a year ago, she ran on prison reform focusing on inmate mental treatment which will now be a third of the restructuring process. There will be two substance abuse-mental health specialists as well as a supervisor to oversee those roles.
“We want to avoid recidivism because the less inmates we have the less we have to pay for,” said Domenick.
Now, all but one deputy position has been filled by internal promotions. The county is looking to hire a deputy warden for operations.
As for the sheriff deputies, they are expected to start in the coming weeks ahead of the county allowing visitors into the prison, September 1st.
Tim Betti will hold his position as warden.