Hundreds of inmates are being transferred from Delaware to Pennsylvania. The Carney administration is doing this to save on correctional officers’ overtime pay. The transfer will take place over several months.
The Pennsylvania Transfer Aims at Cutting Prison Costs
According to Delaware prisons spokeswoman Jayme Gravell, the Pennsylvania Department of corrections will accept at most 330 Delaware inmates within the next two years. The Delaware State will pay $123 daily for each inmate being transferred to Pennsylvania.
The main purpose of moving inmates from Delaware to Pennsylvania is to:
- Strengthen public safety
- Decrease overtime for the Delaware guards
- Improve Delaware guards’ “work life balance.”
According to last year’s auditor’s report, Delaware State used to spend $400,000 every week on overtime during “freezing”. This mandatory overtime for officers in a shift:
- Boosts paychecks
- Reduces the morale of the prison officers
- Saps the energy of the prison staff
The cost of housing a Delaware inmate in Pennsylvania is about $44,800 per year. This is $2,900 cheaper than housing the same inmate in Delaware under the current situation.
According to Garell, Pennsylvania has facilities that can hold Delaware prisoners comfortably. The two states have set up a strong support system. To facilitate visitation, the two states will ensure that Delaware inmates are housed in facilities that don’t require excessive travel time.
Effects of the Pennsylvania Transfer on Delaware Prison Loved ones
Moving Delaware inmates to Pennsylvania will with no doubt affect prison visits. Prison families will have to encounter more difficulties during prison visits.
Loved ones will have to travel longer than usual from Delaware to Pennsylvania to visit the incarcerated. The long-distance travel means higher travel expenses.
Prison Transfer Requirements
The step to transfer inmates to Pennsylvania is a temporary measure. After the transfer, the inmates will still return to Delaware to complete their sentences. They will return once the correctional officer vacancy rate becomes significantly lower than the current one. Currently, out of 1,910 positions, there are only 237 guard vacancies.
For an inmate to be transferred to Pennsylvania facilities they must:
- Have at least 5 years remaining on their prison sentence
- Not be involved in any active litigation
Critics Against the Pennsylvania Transfer
The move to transfer Delaware inmates to Pennsylvania has, however, faced criticism. Officials from both the state senate and house corrections committee opposed the DOC’s move.
Critics believe that addressing the long-lasting under-staffing issue of correctional officers would be more productive. According to them, Delaware should handle its problem instead of sending inmates to another state.
Possible Solution for Prison Costs
There are more beneficial long-term solutions to curb the overflow crisis in prisons than shipping the incarcerated to other state prisons.
Some of the possible solutions include:
- Contracting out correctional officers
- Reducing the number of older prisoners in correctional facilities
- Releasing those held on bail