Where were the members of the Delaware County Coalition for Prison Reform Wednesday evening when two African American correctional officers appeared before Delaware County Council?
“We are… in fear of our safety on this job,” said Albert Johnson about the conditions at George W. Hill Correctional Facility, as quoted in the Daily Times. “As of yesterday, two inmates stabbed. There have been more deaths in this prison since the county has come on. We are fearful for our lives… We get feces, we get urine thrown on us on a daily basis.”
I ask where they were because they and their “woke” politicians never missed an opportunity to condemn, mock, insult or otherwise demean anyone who supported the private operation of the prison. One might think their concern was not the lives and conditions of the correction officers or the inmates, but rather the broader proposition that private enterprise is evil.
READ MORE — Wally Nunn: Delco taxpayers can’t afford the county’s spending binge
The County took back control of the prison last April. They did this despite clear evidence that the prison was one of the safest in Pennsylvania according to the Pa. Department of Corrections. The healthcare provided for the inmates met the most stringent requirements of outside accrediting groups and the state. None of that meant anything to the advocates and their allies. I include in their allies the Philadelphia Inquirer, which in article after article by reporter Vinny Vella ignored proof that the prison was being operated safely and cost effectively.
Unfortunately, as in many progressive programs, it is not the elite of Swarthmore or Radnor that will bear the burden: instead, the Correction Officers and the inmates will suffer. As Todd Shepherd pointed out in a recent article, since the County has taken over, the prison has had more suicides in eight months than the private contractor averaged per year after more than twenty years of operating the prison. Since the County has taken over the prison, the first inmate-on-inmate murder in the prison’s history took place.
It is not only the guards and prisoners that are suffering — another group of people will also be hit. This group, as usual, is the taxpayers.
The collective silence on the increased violence at the prison and the costs that will be borne by the working and retired citizens of Delco exposes the elites for what they are: hypocrites.
As soon as the County runs out of Covid money, Delaware County residents will be asked to pay more in taxes for this “noble experiment.” The County’s consultant estimated that if the county had 1,450 prisoners, the cost to the county would be $43.1 million. The county is averaging 1,300 prisoners and is spending $55 million this year. The 2023 proposed budget is $53 million. Of course, the budget may be busted as the continued violence and suicides will bring a tsunami of lawsuits. As we know from the experience of prisons around the area, these suits can reach into the millions.
Who gets billed for the difference? The taxpayer, with a real estate tax increase of five percent to ten percent. In 2019 — the last year the Republicans ran the County — the prison averaged almost 1,800 prisoners a day and the cost was less than $50 million.
Just a bit off subject: in 2019, the prison had close to 1,800 prisoners on an average day; today, the number is closer to 1,300. Have you considered whether the reduction of 500 inmates has anything to do with the drastic increase in violent crime in the County? It’s worth thinking about.
The advocates, the “woke” politicians, the elites and the Inquirer, despite empirical evidence that they were wrong, got their way. Now, the rest of us must suffer the consequences. Their collective silence on the increased violence at the prison and the costs that will be borne by the working and retired citizens of Delco exposes the elites for what they are: hypocrites.
Wally Nunn is the former Chairman of Delaware County Council, a former member of the Delaware County Jail Oversight, and is currently the chairman of the Broad + Liberty board of directors.