When Delaware County took the reins of management of the county jail (“George Hill”) from a private company last year and installed its own warden for the first time in roughly three decades, a report by the Inquirer said the choice of warden marked a “new era at the beleaguered facility in Thornton.”

If the George W. Hill Correctional Facility was “beleaguered” then, we wonder what adjective would apply currently. We don’t know, because the Delco Daily Times and the Inquirer have failed to report on several recent incidents confronting the new administration, making the prison mired in even more turmoil.

The lack of basic reporting on three suicides that have all happened in the year since the government assumed management control of George Hill is exactly the kind of media selection bias conservatives complain about routinely, but which get pooh-poohed by longstanding media institutions and academics. When a private company managed the facility, the Inquirer and the Daily Times routinely covered a single suicide, much less three.

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Previously, those papers seemed eager to highlight any trouble at the prison when progressives were running a years-long campaign to deprivatize the facility. But now that the all-benevolent government is in control, these incidents apparently deserve no scrutiny or even simple notification to the public.

Worse still, the Daily Times is actively recycling the county’s celebratory press releases.

For example, a recent front page of the Sunday Daily Times displayed large, bold letters reading “NEW APPROACH,” laid across an image of the prison. At first glance to readers who might be familiar with the current issues facing the facility, it sounds promising — a “new approach” to day-to-day management addressing the safety concerns of prison staff, inmates, and the broader community.

Instead, the headline is the print equivalent of “clickbait.” The article is about the county’s new restoration-to-competency program (RTC), aimed to “reduce the wait time for inmates who need these mental health services to progress in their legal cases.”

The article is certainly in line with the preferred narrative of county officials, who have been failing to deliver on their promise to outperform the GEO Group, the private entity that ran the prison until April 2022. Behind the illusion of capable leadership that this new RTC program creates (and that the county council has a vested interest in upholding) is the grim reality of the county’s critical failures to protect prison staff and inmates.

Nowhere in the article about the RTC program is any mention of the inmate who died in the prison in March.

At this point, the Daily Times has had several weeks to report on it and they have not. How is it that a celebration of the five-bed RTC program makes front-page news, but there is no mention of yet another tragic suicide at the facility, demonstrating a desperate need for accountable leadership?

While an RTC program may be good for the prison, citizens and policymakers ought to be aware that the safety of the corrections staff and inmates is still very much compromised.

At a December meeting of the county council, a prison security guard cited critical safety concerns when speaking to the council, which the Daily Times did report on.

“We are in fear of our safety on this job,” said correctional officer Albert Johnson. “As of yesterday, two inmates were stabbed. There have been more deaths in this prison since the county has come on. We are fearful for our lives with cells that do not lock, from inmates that come out when they want. We get feces, we get urine thrown on us on a daily basis.”

Also to their credit, the Daily Times and the Inquirer reported on an inmate allegedly murdered by his own cellmate last year, as well as a prisoner released by mistake in February. Yet, the three suicides and one “delayed homicide” have gone unreported by those outlets.

The rising number of deaths is even more concerning when one considers that the total number of prisoners has actually been reduced by one-third since the county took over management. Indeed, the county is spending millions more to care for 1,200 prisoners than they did for GEO to care for 1,800.

While an RTC program may be good for the prison in its own right, citizens and policymakers ought to be aware that the safety of the corrections staff and inmates in the facility is still very much compromised — no other program or initiative should take precedence over this in the news, or when county officials are actively trying to achieve prison reform. It is an acute matter of life and death.

If the leadership in charge of George Hill can’t get this situation under control, it’s probably time to take a “NEW APPROACH,” to say the least.

Broad + Liberty is a nonprofit media endeavor dedicated to sharing voices and stories that are shut out of other media outlets. @BroadandLiberty

2 thoughts on “The Editors: Local media gives Delco’s prison a pass now that government is the manager”

  1. So half way through the article even the author admits that the inquirer and daily times have written about it – just not as much as the author feels is politically appropriate. (I.e. serves his political agenda). Of course, now that corporate elites aren’t personally profiting from these abuses at the taxpayer’s expense, any rational person would see why it’s less of a scandal.

    Apparently the Party apparatchiks writing agitprop for this fake news outlet want us to be more concerned about random local outlets than the HUGE and humiliating revelations about Fox News intentionally lying to it’s viewers about the last election.

    1. Cicero, was the Inquirer lying about the Covington Kid intentional, was the Inquirer putting out the lie about Hunters laptop intentional, was the Inquirer touting the false story about Trumps Russian collusion intentional? I for one would defend the Inquire from the charge of intentionally lying. Intentional lying calls for forethought and thought is something only sentient beings are capable of.

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