Somerset County Jail inmates who throw food or trays at other inmates or staff will be given something else to eat — food loaf.
Warden Gregory Briggs told the prison board on Tuesday that food loaf is part of the written disciplinary policy. Food loaf is also called a special management meal — it meets nutritional guidelines for a full meal but is one solid loaf of food. It is said to be very bland.
“It meets the calorie intake required of food,” Briggs said after the meeting. “It is designed for security purposes. It is served without utensils.”
Only inmates who are found guilty of misconduct at a disciplinary hearing are issued food loaf. Inmates in some states have filed lawsuits against the extended use of the loaf, according to the American Bar Association Journal, but federal courts have upheld the use.
“Inmates don’t complain about the food much — I eat here,” Briggs said. “They can also purchase things like coffee at the commissary.”
In addition to the disciplinary meal, inmates who have to be segregated because of their behavior will be handcuffed behind the back when being transported instead of in front, Briggs said. The board adopted the inmate disciplinary policy.
County solicitor Daniel Rullo said the American Civil Liberties Union has issued the report “Reproductive Health Locked Up: An Examination of Pennsylvania Jails.” The study was done because an inmate in the Lackawanna County Jail gave birth while she was alone in her cell in 2007.
PrimeCare Medical, Harrisburg, provides medical services in the Somerset County Jail. The ACLU wrote to Todd W. Haskins, vice president of operations of PrimeCare, and stated that the report shows a wide variation in written policies across the state.
“The policies of jails that use PrimeCare as their medical contractor were more complete than most others in the state,” wrote Carol Petraitis, director of the Clara Bell Duvall Reproductive Freedom Project. She applauded PrimeCare for its efforts to develop comprehensive policies.
Judge John M. Cascio said the county is still about two weeks away from implementing a policy under which people arrested after 10 p.m. will be arraigned the following morning, with the exception of the most serious offenses. The jail still has to install video equipment in that holding area. Briggs said the jail administration has training scheduled for corrections officers as to when people under arrest need immediate medical treatment because of intoxication.
Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes, board chairwoman, said the jail’s roof will be assessed because of possible leaks and the air flow system will be evaluated. The board will also consider either putting poles in front of the jail or no longer allowing parking there.
“It is an older facility, but the building is sustainable for a few more years,” she said.
Vicki Rascona-Saylor, chief of adult probation, issued a report on electronic monitoring. In 2011 73 offenders were accepted into the electronic monitoring program, saving 4,878 days in the county jail at a total cost of $390,240, calculating $80 a day. When the program was
first started in 2004 only 28 people were accepted. In 2009 and 2010 numerous offenders were disqualified because of positive urinalysis tests or because they did not obtain a drug and alcohol assessment prior to sentencing.