On Tuesday, Lancaster County Prison in Pennsylvania announced upcoming changes due to a number of drug related incidents. The number of drug cases they have handled for the first half of 2017 (13 incidents) is more than half of what they handled in the whole year of 2016 (15 incidents).
About 80% to 90% of the inmates are there because of drug related issues. Its prison employees have either caught the inmates with the drugs or have noticed signs that indicate drug use. The drugs are believed to be smuggled into the institution through prison visits. Some are sent through mail.
Drug Counteracting Measures at Lancaster County Prison
The prison management had to make changes in the way it runs some of its operations to counteract the drug issue. Some of the changes made include:
- Training the prison employees on drug detection
- Expanding the addiction treatment programs
- Increasing the stock of Narcan in the prison
- Starting the process of administering Vivitrol to inmates
- Changing visitation policy from in-person visits to being separated by glass walls
What is Narcan and Vivitrol?
Narcan is an overdose-counteracting drug. It has been in service for the last 6 months in the prison’s health department. They will change its administration of the drug from injection to a nasal spray version.
Vivitrol, a drug used to treat opioid dependency, will be made available to the inmates. The prisoners will voluntarily take the drug. Three days before an inmate is released, he can opt to enroll in a program that will allow him to have access to the drugs and continue with the treatment outside prison.
The Lancaster County Prison drug and treatment program is available through a grant from the state, T.W. Ponessa Excellence and Rays Alliance. Inmates who go through detox when they arrive at the prison will continue to receive medical treatment.
Prison officials have a new drug and alcohol addiction counselor to meet the increased demand. Its opioid crisis is the biggest issue the prison has had to deal with in about 22 years.
Lancaster County Prison Visitation Policy Changes
This is the biggest change made at the Lancaster, Pennsylvania prison. It directly affects both the prisoners… and their loved ones. Prison officials have decided to change the institution’s current visitation policy. Currently, it allows the visitors to have direct contact with the inmates. In the new policy, this will change.
Visitation will be moved to a room with a huge glass wall partition. Inmates will sit on one side of the glass wall and speak to their visitor using a phone. The prison visitors will sit on the other side. This new prison visitation policy at Lancaster County Prison will be initiated to stop visitors from smuggling drugs inside.
It will not be an easy change for the prisoners or their loved ones. These inmates are used to being able to hug their wives, mothers, girlfriends, fiancés and other family members and friends. They even carry their children during their prison visits.
Security will be tightened around all the prison access points, i.e. primarily visitations, inmate entry, mail room and employees coming in and leaving the prison.
Video: Lancaster County Prison Security Policy Changes
The video below was published to YouTube by PennLive.com:
“Warden Cheryl Steberger and Lancaster County Commissioner Josh Parsons announced the change on Tuesday, and said they would be telling inmates Tuesday evening. This comes among a number of new initiatives intended to counteract drug use in the prison.”
“’The plague of opioids and heroin is really sweeping our community, and Lancaster County is not immune,’ Parsons said at a press conference Tuesday. ‘We’re also seeing this impact here in the prison, and that makes sense. When the community at large sees something, we see it here at the prison too.’”
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