The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 14, 2013

Sunbury residents say county inmates noisy and rude

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

SUNBURY — City residents are banning together to ask the Northumberland County commissioners to find a solution to inmates screaming and yelling obscenities that can be heard two blocks away.

Walt Holda, 69, of Pennsylvania Avenue, couldn’t take the yelling from inmates at the county prison any longer and he decided to pay a visit to the lockup to speak with prison officials.

Holda said he was told “there is nothing we can do, they are in jail already.”

Holda then began to speak with other residents in the neighborhood of North Second and Arch streets and found that they shared his frustration.

“I’ve been here since 1972,” said Arch Street resident Bob Lytle, 68. “These last two years have just been awful with people cursing, and it goes until 2 a.m. at times. We are asking for help to try and get this stopped.”

Warden Roy Johnson said that won’t be easy.

“It is so hard to stop,” he said. ‘We try to keep our night people on it and identify the inmates who are doing it, and if they are caught, we give them misconducts and attempt to move them, but it is difficult to identify who they are.”

Johnson said the prison takes the residents’ concerns seriously.

“We will issue misconducts and it could affect their paroles,” he said. “We are taking this very seriously, but this is just another legitimate reason why this facility needs to be replaced. Being this close to the general public, and the building being old, it is causing problems.”

Quin Bordner needs to use a sound machine so he can sleep, he said.

“I try to drown it out,” he said. “It gets loud and they curse and swear all the time.”

The residents took their concerns to Commissioner Vinny Clausi because they said they knew he was watching the prison.

“I called him and he was out of the state and told me he would look into it,” Holda said. “We appreciate anything he would do for us.”

Clausi said the residents’ concerns are one of the many reasons he is pushing to get the prison moved.

“Those people should not have to listen to that filth,” Clausi said. “We as commissioners need to listen to what the residents are saying and we need to take action. We can’t wait 10 years. We can’t tell these people they have to put up with this for 10 years.”

Lytle agreed.

“The building is old,” he said. “It would be nice for our neighborhood not to have to listen to this anymore, but we know we won’t ever see this place gone in our lifetime.”

The Union County Jail is located inside the Union County Courthouse, in Lewisburg, and noise is limited. The Snyder County Jail in Penn Township near Selinsgrove, is fiarly isolated.

The Montour County jail is in a residential neighborhood in Danville.

“Yes, we are very close to homes, and when our windows are open, noise can be heard,” Warden Gerald Cutchall said. “If anyone becomes loud and is screaming or cursing we immediately get a hold of the situation and we issue misconducts or we segregate that individual. We take it seriously, and we won’t tolerate it.”

Holda saw Sunbury District Judge Ben Apfelbaum about the situation.

“All I can say is I see citations like this in my office once a week,” Apfelbaum said. “If people are in the community and screaming obscenities, then they could be charged.”

So for now, the residents will have to wait and see what Northumberland County officials can do to curb the noise. “We hope they can come up with something,” Holda said. “We will keep asking for help.”

n Email comments to fscarcella@dailyitem.com.