Meadville Tribune

May 24, 2013

Little public comment on jail review at commissioners meeting

By Keith Gushard
Meadville Tribune

FRENCH CREEK TOWNSHIP Mercer County — There was little public comment at Thursday’s meeting of the Crawford County Prison Board on a recent review of operations of the Crawford County Correctional Facility.

Only Gary Richardson of Springboro offered brief public comment on the content of the study by the National Institute of Corrections

That independent study, done by two representatives of the Institute, was conducted this spring based on interviews of staff, inmates, the public and board members. The 52-page report, which was released in April, called the jail “a very well-run facility.”

However, Richardson pointed out at Thursday’s prison board meeting that the consultants noted the jail needs to place a focus on staff development training including a formal annual training program.

“In fact, the training deficit in this department would be a significant issue if the department found themselves in court on a failure to train suit,” Richardson said in quoting portions of a summary of the report.

Richardson, also quoting from the report, said “It is important that staff be properly trained to maintain professional demeanor. It is important that staff be held accountable for any unprofessional behavior. The perception of indifference is difficult to disperse.”

Richardson said the board didn’t review those remarks when it publicly discussed the report at its April board meeting.

 The report came about after the Crawford County Prison Board voted Jan. 24 to have an independent review of jail operations by the National Institute of Corrections at no cost to the county.

The board’s action was in response to a small group of critics who publicly raised concerns about the jail’s operations following a handful of high-profile incidents over the past few years at the jail.

The NIC representatives interviewed staff, inmates, prison board members and the public during a two-day visit to the jail on March 18 and 19. The NIC, an agency within the Federal Bureau of Prisons, has no official jurisdiction over county jails, so its investigators only make recommendations, not mandates.

Warden Tim Lewis reiterated at Thursday’s meeting that a number of the recommendations in the report already have been implemented.

The county’s three commissioners, who serve on the prison board, all have said they are in favor of increasing additional training for jail staff.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at