Staffing a problem at the Clarion County Jail

Staff writer

Staffing at the Clarion County remains a problem. Friday Clarion Jail Warden Darren Knox listed the resignations at the jail. “Since the end of October we have had three full-time officers depart, one full-time cook depart, four part-time officers depart and one full-time officer under resignation, a total of 10 positions.”

He said during that period the jail hired four full- time officers, a full-time cook and two part-time officers, seven total.

“We are not replacing at the same rate we are losing,” he said. “Another concern is the inexperience. There is a higher rate of inexperience in the building. We are seeing that particularly in our night shift.”

He said he is tackling that problem several different ways. “We are being very proactive. The Human Resources Department is not sitting on applications and we interview them very quickly because we have found that the people coming in having applied at multiple places.”

He said that making the situation more complicated is the need to train the new corrections officers. He said 10 officers need to attend the Department of Corrections Academy in Elizabethtown. The four-week course costs the county $400 and includes food and lodging.

“What that means is that when they are at the academy, that is 14 full-time spots on the schedule that have to be filled,” he said. “It does push up the need for overtime.”

Knox presented some information regarding a mobile X-Ray service that would visit the jail to take X-Rays as needed.

“Instead of sending an inmate out for the service, you can bring the service into the jail which would eliminate transporting the inmate requiring two officers to accompany the inmate. The outside transport is one of the riskier things we do. We are taking someone from a controlled environment to an uncontrolled environment where you never know what you might encounter.”

Knox said he had done some research on several providers in the area and found PMX to be the best option for Clarion County. “I think PMX is a safer option and should be more cost effective,” he said.

Knox said an X-Ray is scheduled only on the recommendation of the jail’s medical staff. The appointment is then scheduled with the provider. The jail can also schedule an appointment for an ultrasound or an EKG.

Knox said in January four inmates were taken to local facilities for X-Ray services and one for an ultrasound.

Knox said PMX is staffed in the area and services other facilities in the area. He said that pending staffing, PMX could make emergency visits.

The board gave Knox permission to explore a contract with PMX. The jail board and the board of commissioners must approve the contract.

The board reorganized electing Clarion County Commissioner Braxton White as the chairman, Clarion County Commissioner Wayne Brosius as the vice-chair and Clarion County Treasurer Karyn Montana as the secretary.

The board went into an executive session and took no action.