READING, Pa. - The future of the Berks County Jail was a topic of discussion by the county commissioners at their weekly meeting on Thursday.
Commissioner Mark C. Scott voiced his concern about the condition of the jail in Bern Township and the cost needed to update and run the facility.
"The jail line item consumes one of the greatest portions of the county tax revenues," Scott said, adding that the traditional approach is expensive and time-consuming.
Scott suggested the board consider an alternative: privatizing the jail. He cited the possible advantages as cost savings, economies of scale, and improved competency in building and operating the jail.
"While I have not ruled out a government-constructed and -run jail, I think potential savings here are such that it's just too tempting to ignore," Scott said. "It's part of our due diligence that we explore all the alternatives."
Commissioner Christian Y. Leinbach said that a long-term plan for the jail is his number one goal for 2017, and it is one of the biggest capital projects the board of commissioners has ever faced.
"I am not willing to accept that a new jail built by the county is the only option," Leinbach said. "The one option that I don't believe is realistic is to indefinitely ignore the real conditions of the existing jail."
"I am open to hearing all of the options," Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt said, although he added that there are huge roadblocks to overcome with the privatization of the jail.
The oldest portion of the jail was built in 1933, with an expansion done in 1993.
The county has hired a Philadelphia-based architectural and engineering firm to analyze the cost of renovation vs. new construction.
Parents who have kids in the Governor Mifflin School District spoke out tonight at a community forum and town hall-style meeting, as the district looked to take the conversation off social media and bring it face-to-face with parents.Read More »
- Pothole-riddled road causes problems for Centre residents
- Man accused of embezzling more than $400K from employer
- Reading High School to install new, HD security cameras
- Pa. Senate leaders, US congressmen sue over district map
- Commissioner: Pa. plans to eliminate county-owned homes
- Franklin Street Station on track for opening of gastropub
- Updated Parkland schools closed as fire tears through bus garage near Orefield MS
- Updated Chilly today with more rain, some ice to the north
- Updated Man critical after being shot in the face in Allentown
- Witness recalls scene of deadly Lehigh Valley conduit collapse
- Police searching for missing man with dementia
- Updated William Allen student arrested, charged with making threats
- Planners updated on Five City Center, Lafayette College projects
- Hearing on fracking draws dozens, many opposed
- Tractor-trailer wreck closes I-78 for hours Thursday night
- Gov. Mifflin parents sound off about safety concerns