The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 19, 2013

Northumberland County Prison isn't hot water, for once

But that isn't good either

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

SUNBURY — Officials went in and out of the Northumberland County Prison on Tuesday after complaints were made late last week by inmates who said there was no hot water.

Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Steve Bridy, who also is the prison board chairman, entered the Sunbury jail with President Judge Robert Sacavage and chief adult probation officer Dave Wondoloski.

“The chief clerk (Gary Steffen) was at the prison Tuesday morning after he received a complaint about no hot water,” Bridy said. “I went over to investigate it, and I found the water to be sufficient.”

That doesn’t mean the water was hot, Bridy said.

“It wasn’t scalding like at a house,” he said. “Granted it could go down when you are using so much water because we are housing an extra 100 inmates than we usually have.”

Clausi wouldn’t release any other details, but did say an investigation was ongoing.

“I can’t disclose anything,” he said. “I went with the judge to look at the new video conference room because of an issue, and I was there for another issue that I won’t discuss.”

Bridy and Sacavage have worked to have a teleconference court area in the prison.

Officials declined to discuss recent allegations made by two former PrimeCare Inc., of Harrisburg, employees that the company was providing inmates with the wrong or no medications while they were housed in the lockup. PrimeCare is under contract to provide medical services at the prison.

The ex-employees also allege inmate health records were falsified.

“I have no comment at this time,” Clausi said. “I wish I could, but I can’t.”

Bridy acknowledged an investigation was under way by PrimeCare officials, but said he has no other information.

Carl Hoffman, president and corporate medical director for PrimeCare Inc., has not returned phone calls seeking comment.

Clausi refused to comment on the inmates’ claims they are not being provided with hot water or what he was interested in investigating at the prison. In a $1.6 million federal lawsuit filed by eight inmates earlier this month, one of the claims was inhumane conditions.

Warden Roy Johnson, who is out on medical leave, said he had no knowledge of the lawsuit, even though court documents showed the suit was filed earlier this month in Middle District Court in Scranton.

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