Coronavirus contributes to lowest Clarion jail population in a decade

The average daily population at the Clarion County jail is at its lowest level in a decade.

Jail warden Jeff Hornberger said the average inmate population last year was 67. Previous average numbers included 101 in 2019, 108 in 2017, 113 in 2016 and 104 in 2015.

Judge Sara Seidle-Patton said the coronavirus is the leading factor in the lower population numbers.

“We have been trying to keep people out of jail while the pandemic is going on. We have slowed down the court process,” Seidle-Patton said.

The judge also said house arrests and electronic monitoring are being used to keep the jail population down.

“This year the commissioners have provided some additional funds in the probation budget that will allow us to continue to use that house arrest for some of the individuals who may not have been able to pay for it,” said Seidle-Patton. “That has been a good tool to help us out in this situation.”

“I think our numbers will stay down a little bit longer when I look at our plea and sentence court list,” the judge added. “We are still limiting the number of individuals on that list to make sure we do not have so many people in the courtroom at one time. Hopefully this will get us through this winter phase.”

Hornberger said he has appreciated all the help from the courts and the district attorney and probation offices.

“In November when COVID was really hitting here I was worried, but all of the departments have worked very well together,” Hornberger said. “We know our numbers will go back up but things are looking very stable at the jail right now.”