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Controversial Addition To The Centre County Prison

A controversial proposal to add an outdoor recreational area for inmates at the Centre County Prison has been discussed for years.

The idea is now moving forward, but it’s still a slow process.

After issuing an RFQ request for qualifications last month, the Centre County Commissioners say only one company responded to the idea of further studying the feasibility of adding an outdoor rec area at the county prison.

“We are not really committed to this company. We will evaluate the qualifications. If the board is comfortable where the contract negotiations end up, then we could enter into a contract for design.”

And that could be months away. The county prison, now nearly twenty years old, has indoor rec areas for inmates, but nothing outdoors, which some have termed inhumane.

But only about 20-percent of Pennsylvania’s county prisons have outdoor areas. The company submitting the RFQ is tied to the company that designed the prison.

We asked long time commissioner, Steve Dershem, if an outdoor rec area for inmates was part of the original design.

“Any design I recall was pretty much the design as it is now. The only change I remember was out back, where there was a basketball hoop, and a little basketball court for corrections officers.”

In the coming months, county leaders expect to get a better idea of the options available, along with the expenses for a new rec area at the prison, including the staffing costs for additional personnel.

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