By RANDY BARTLEY
In his annual report Jan. 9, Clarion County Jail Warden Jeff Hornberger reported the jail’s expenses were at about 91 percent of the projected annual budget of $2,630,174.
Hornberger said that is a savings of $228,513.
Hornberger said that barring a “catastrophic event,” the jail’s medical expenses were at 96 percent of the budget.
“That can change at any moment,” Hornberger said. He added the jail hasn’t had an outbreak of flu this year.
The jail had an average daily population of 87 inmates, the lowest since 2012.
“The numbers are going down and that is good for the taxpayers of Clarion County,” Hornberger said.
Hornberger credited several “innovative” programs in use by the courts that help to reduce the number of inmates.
The court has been using a drug and treatment and behavioral court and may be starting additional programs.
“Judge (Sara) Seidle-Patton addressed several new programs in her inaugural address,” said Hornberger. “These programs could also help to lower the jail population.”
Clarion County Sheriff Rex Munsee, a member of the Clarion County Board of Prison Inspectors, said the county is also using a bail supervision program that reduces bail in some cases to avoid incarceration.
“There are some limits. It is really up to the judge’s discretion,” said the sheriff. “It has worked well for us over the past two years.”
Hornberger said the lower inmate population does not impact the labor force.
“We still need to do transports and there are always sick days,” he said.
The warden said the staff often does not replace an employee on certain shifts.
Hornberger reported that there were 594 inmates at the jail in 2019. Of those inmates 431 were male and 163 female.
The largest numbers of offenses committed in 2019 were drug related. There were 85 charges of manufacture, delivery or possession with the intent to manufacture or deliver and 67 charges of possession. Hornberger noted the same person committed some of the offenses.
Jail board chairman and county commissioner Wayne Brosius commended Hornberger and his staff for keeping expenses below budget.
Charges filed in flooding incident
Hornberger also reported two inmates have been charged in relation to a flooding incident at the jail in December.
David Wayne Brandon, 26, of Emlenton, and Robert Caleb Weick, 22, of Shippenville were each charged with two counts of second degree misdemeanor institutional vandalism, two counts of disorderly conduct creating a hazardous physical offense, a third degree misdemeanor and a summary offense, criminal mischief, tampering with property.
According to the criminal complaint video evidence was provided to county detectives that showed water running out of Brandon’s cell and Weick’s cell and spilling over the walkway and onto the block below.
According to the complaint, the flooding was created when Brandon and Weick blocked the gaps underneath their cell doors with a towel; overflowed the toilet to cause water to back up in the cell and then removed the towels to allow the water to escape the cells in a rapid fashion, in an “obvious intentional act.”
On Dec, 12, 2019, Brandon had a misconduct hearing and admitted to flooding his cell on purpose, the complaint said.
Brandon and Weick were arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Timothy P. Schill on Jan. 3.
According to court documents, Weick is currently being held in the Clarion County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail on an alleged robbery and assault charge.
According to court documents Brandon is lodged in the Clarion County Jail on a probation violation.
Hornberger said the jail is pursuing bathrooms fixtures that will only allow for three consecutive flushes before pausing for several minutes.
At the annual reorganizational meeting of the Clarion County Jail Inspection Board, Brosius was reelected as the chairman and Clarion County Treasurer Tom McConnell as the vice-chairman.