ShareThis Page
New prison fences aim to save money |

New prison fences aim to save money

| Tuesday, June 10, 2008 12:00 a.m

Westmoreland County Prison officials hope that $12,900 fences will guard against hundreds of thousands of dollars in future medical bills.

Warden John Walton told the county prison board on Monday that construction of fences on second-floor balconies in three units of the jail should begin sometime this month and be completed by mid-July.

Officials conceived the idea last month, after an inmate leaped from a 12-foot-high balcony and crashed into a set of metal tables. It was the second incident in the past year in which an inmate attempted suicide by leaping from a balcony.

Earlier this year, the county received a $420,000 medical bill for an inmate who failed in an attempted suicide last summer by jumping from that same balcony.

A third jumper, described by Walton as a “copycat,” was thwarted last month.

Prison board members yesterday signed off on the fence purchase after reviewing three proposals that ranged from a low of $12,900 to a high of about $30,000.

“It’s cheaper to put up a fence for $12,000 than pay for a $400,000 hospital bill,” Walton said.

The floor-to-ceiling fence will be erected in three units, those that house new inmates, special needs detainees and prisoners classified as disciplinary problems. Six other units at the jail will not have fenced-in balconies.

County officials have struggled for the past year with skyrocketing medical expenses that resulted from inmates who have attempted suicide.

So far, the county has avoided having any medical bills from last month’s suicide attempt. Just minutes after inmate Tadd A. Naylor, of North Belle Vernon, hit the floor, officials requested and received from a county judge a furlough for the inmate.

Naylor was released to the hospital in an effort to hold him responsible for his own medical costs. Walton said Naylor, who was seriously injured in his fall, has since been released from the hospital and sent to a halfway house.

A second inmate was furloughed late last month when she became ill after ingesting more than 100 pills smuggled into the jail, Walton said. She, too, has not returned to the county jail.

“If things are self-inflicted, I can’t see why the county should pay for it,” Walton said.

“The people who are being furloughed are the ones with minor charges who aren’t dangerous to anyone.”

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.