Jail guards celebrate a week of recognition

May 9, 2019

In a monthly meeting of the Somerset County Prison Board Tuesday, where no new policies were produced or adopted and no new regulation or program was brought up for discussion, one thing stood out: how the board supports and recognizes the corrections officers in the Somerset County Jail.

Gov. Tom Wolf has designated this week as Corrections Employee Week in Pennsylvania.

At almost every prison board meeting, one or more correctional officers are commended for exemplary work such as finding contraband or saving a life.

One day this week the corrections officers will get a steak grilled in the jail’s back alley by Global Tel-Link, a jail vendor. GTL has provided inmates with access to touch-screen tablets for a fee since late November. The tablets also are part of a service used in state prisons.

We “recognize the challenge presented to corrections employees as the jail population changes when individuals are released, convicted, transferred to other facilities and new offenders are arrested and enter the system,” a prison board proclamation states.

The jail’s mission is to “ensure not only the safekeeping of the inmates while incarcerated, but also assist the individuals with reintegration into society.”

Warden Dennis Vought and Deputy Warden Brian Pelesky, in their first prison board meeting since being promoted to their new roles, discussed the jail’s population.

The jail’s average daily inmate population was 121 in April, up from 116 in March. The jail has a capacity of about 150 inmates.

The inmates’ average length of stay in April was 17 days, with 102 admissions and 74 releases. Ten inmates were released within 24 hours, 12 within 48 hours and 23 within seven days.

The inmate population at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday was 123, including 99 males and 24 females. Thirteen inmates were on work release: 11 males and two females.

The prison board will next meet at 8:30 a.m. June 4 in the commissioners board room in the county office building.