Late last week, more counties became part of an agreement to house some juvenile offenders at the Cambria County Prison.
But this is not the first time a deal like this has been made between counties.
Cambria County’s of housing juveniles from other counties only if they are adjudicated as adults started back in 2016.
“Finding housing for juveniles is a very difficult thing to do,”
Their prison has a small unit with 14 beds that can be transformed into a juvenile unit, which Warden Smith says most prisons don’t have.
“Most jails are not constructed or prepared to be able to house juveniles. They’re not constructed in a manner that allows the sight and sound separation,”
The required “sight and sound” separation is because of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) mandating them to be separated.
“They have to be sight, sound, separate from adult offenders. They do everything within their unit, and they are isolated from the adult population,”
The Cambria County Prison has completed memorandums with Somerset, Bedford, and Union counties.
Just last week, they added Elk, Berks, and Indiana counties to that list.
They’re still waiting on finalization from Blair, Centre, and Washington counties.
“It gives our county the opportunity to earn some revenue for housing, and it gives the other counties the opportunities to house a juvenile if they have one,”
First Deputy Warden Craig Descavish Prison says the juveniles get the same privileges or more as the adult population.
“We do make every opportunity that we can possibly do available to the juveniles while they’re here. Obviously, being at a young age and being in a prison is not ideal for them,”
Whether it’s education, recreation, or mental health, leaders say they’re focused on rehabilitating the youth.
“My administrative team, they see them weekly to make sure they’re not having any issues, or problems, and they’re able to communicate with their family,”