Meadville Tribune

December 12, 2013

Jail to allow inmate visitation with kids next year

By Keith Gushard
Meadville Tribune

SAEGERTOWN — A new program will be in place early next year at the Crawford County jail allowing inmates visitation with their children at the jail.

The jail has moved its inmate library area to another part of the jail complex and the former library room is being converted into a visitation area for inmates and their children, Warden Tim Lewis said at Thursday’s meeting of the Crawford County Prison Board.

Inmates must have good behavior and attend all their required rehabilitative programs — such as drug and alcohol or mental health counseling, Lewis said.

Inmates will sign up and if given visitation with their children, they will be allowed visits at the jail with their children, Lewis said.

“It appears it’s going to be a good program and be a workable program,” Lewis said.

The library room will be modified to become more child-friendly, including having a sofa, children’s toys, a play area and a television, Lewis said. Funding for the changes will come from earnings from the jail’s commissary fund. The commissary allows inmates to purchase things such as candy bars and other items.

An inmate’s visitation will be monitored by a corrections officer from the adjoining law library.

Judge John Spataro, a member of the prison board, said the program is modeled after similar programs in place at other jails.

“It’s based upon some studies that indicate when an inmate has an opportunity to interact — especially with their children — it aids them (from becoming repeat offenders),” Spataro said. “They see how much they’re missing by their confinement.”

A committee headed by Crawford County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Anthony Vardaro has helped put the project together, Lewis said.

The room is expected to be ready in early January, Lewis said.



Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.