The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 26, 2014

Shoch: Reporter was disruptive at prison

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — A Jan. 7 videotape of a reporter for The Daily Item at the front door of the Northumberland County Prison purports to show Francis Scarcella was “disruptive,” said county Commissioner Rick Shoch, who distributed the video on Tuesday.

In the first of four silent segments of the 12-minute video released by Shoch, prison officials are seen walking slowly in a hallway near the commander’s office. A woman enters with a broom and dust pan. A man checks a bulletin board. Scarcella is not to be seen.

Here is the video:

In the second segment, from the prison’s front office, a man is seen taking a binder from a shelf. Two other prison officials look through the binder with him. All three leave the office. Scarcella is not to be seen.

A third segment, labeled as being in the front of the prison, shows jail workers talking, and walking past, and entering and exiting through a gated door. Scarcella is not to be seen.

Scarcella finally appears in the fourth segment, roughly four minutes in length, in which he stands in the foyer of the prison, behind a gated door, hands in pockets, speaking to a prison official.

Then Scarcella, who was rebuffed in an attempt to speak with murder suspect Miranda Barbour, turns and leaves the prison.

Scarcella’s visit was “disruptive” to the normal business of the prison, Shoch said.

Fellow prison board members Commissioners Stephen Bridy and Vinny Clausi disagree. They said Scarcella was No. 3 on a list of visitors written by Barbour, people she wanted to have visit and talk to her.

Shoch said the tape shows that when Scarcella entered through the front door, the guards move away from the door.

“They had been waiting for other people to arrive that night,” Shoch said. “People who were scheduled visitors.”

A guard leaning against a table also was distracted from his duties by Scarcella, Shoch claims.

Scarcella had gone to the prison, after being notified by Barbour herself, that he was on her list of visitors.

Shoch said there normally are two lists made by a prisoner.

The first, one he calls a prisoner “wish list,” identifies all the people a prisoner “would like to see. Not everyone on that list gets to be on the official visitation list.”

Scarcella was on the wish list and on the visitor list.

Normally, Shoch said, “Once on the list, that person is investigated. Then, when he or she is approved, they must make an appointment with the prison to see the prisoner.”

On the day of the meeting, the visitor is screened before being led into an area where they can talk to the prisoner.

Shoch said that Scarcella on Jan. 7 initially was turned away, but actually was on the visitation list, “but no one knew it yet, because his name was not in the binder that lets guards know who can legitimately visit prisoners.”