Inmates at a northeastern Pennsylvania prison are going to make their own beds. But it's probably not what you think.
Carbon County Correctional Facility's warden, Joseph Gross, said Wednesday at a prison board hearing that he looked into purchasing an additional 18 bunk beds. At $700 each, that's well over $10,000.
The Lehighton Times News says the warden found out that for around $3,400 they could buy the raw materials and make their own bunk beds because an inmate assigned to work release is a welder.
Gross says the inmate has volunteered to build the beds. He will be under the supervision of the prison's maintenance supervisor.
The warden asked the board's permission to spend the $3,400 and they agreed.
The inmate had offered his own welding unit to do the work. However, Gross asked if the county had one the inmate could use. He was concerned about contraband being hidden in the machinery.
Work Release director Frank Shubeck said he met with Kovatch officials, and "replicated every aspect" of the beds that would have been purchased.
"This is at (Kovatch's) cost," Shubeck said. "They are providing the raw materials at their cost, which saves us quite a bit. All cutting, pressing, anything that had to be done by the manufacturer, that was done for free."
Another big cost savings came about when the board agreed to replace lights in-house as needed rather than doing them all at once.
Replacing the interior lighting would cost almost $33,000, after rebates.
Prison board chairman and county Controller Robert Crampsie said the cost would require the county to seek bids. That would mean developing bid specs, the cost of which would wipe out any savings from a rebate offered by PPL if the project was done all at once.
Crampsie said that in order to get the full $24,216 rebate, the project would have to be done before June 1. After that, the rebate would be halved.
County Commissioner William O'Gurek said it would not be possible to get the project done by June 1.
Crampsie said the project would be more cost-efficient of done in house and on an as-needed basis. He also noted that replacing the bulbs all at once was not something the county budgeted for.
Maintenance supervisor Charles Neff said the type of light bulbs used in the current fixtures are no longer being made. The county has about 20 of them left. In addition to changing out the bulbs, the hardware needs to be changed to accommodate the new bulbs.
The new bulbs would also be more energy efficient, thus saving the county some money in electricity costs, Neff said.
In other matters, Shubeck said that the work release program had 11 inmates between March 20 and April 15. That means the amount of room and board they pay increased. Inmates paid $7,625 for their keep so far this year.
The board also agreed to send a correctional officer to be trained as a defensive tactics instructor. That would give the prison two such instructors. the training is offered free of charge by the state Department of Corrections.