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United Way of Lancaster County


A first glimpse at the Correctional Facility’s needs assessment data

The title page of the Lancaster County Correctional facility needs assessment. (Source: Lancaster County)

Lancaster County hasn’t yet released the needs assessment for its planned correctional facility.

A 23-page presentation derived from it, however, is included in the Prison Board’s Thursday agenda.

It does not indicate a projected bed count or square footage amid its tables and charts, but it does offer several projections of “average daily population,” or ADP.

Those projections show a “base” count of 909 and an “alternative” count of 947 as of 2050. Adding in a “peaking forecast” raises those numbers to 1,219 and 1,271, respectively. Peaking percentages account for seasonal variations in jail populations.

The Rev. Jason Perkowski, who has been attending Prison Board meetings on behalf of Power Interfaith to push for bail reform, characterized the document as “sparse.”

He expressed concern that much of the data comes from 2020 and 2021, during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s far from clear how representative that is, or what trends will look like post-Covid, he said.

Kent Kroehler of Have a Heart, a regular Prison Board attendee, said there’s no indication the prison design committee and its consultant, CGL, have engaged any stakeholders outside the prison and county government. That’s far too narrow, he said, and there has been a “woeful lack of communication” with the public to date.

“It’s unbecoming,” he said.

CGL is also working with neighboring Berks County on a prison project. It submitted that county’s needs assessment this summer.

The assessment projected an ADP for Berks of 823 inmates as of 2035, yielding a recommended bed space need of 931. Factoring in the need for “architecturally sound” prison housing configurations of 40 to 60 beds per unit, it “rounded” the latter projection to 960 beds.

Following Thursday’s Prison Board meeting, the Lancaster County Correctional Facility needs assessment will be presented to the county commissioners. Once they approve it, information about it will be posted on the correctional facility project website, the design committee said.