CONNELLSVILLE (KDKA) — Stone walls hide the grim reality of life in the Fayette County Prison.
Robert Herring spent seven months in the prison last year for fleeing and eluding a police officer.
“It’s really unlivable. It’s inhumane is what it is,” said Herring. “Your through the old bars, paint is chipping off, it’s absolutely filthy.”
The 124-year-old prison has no air conditioning, and inmates sleep on cots because of overcrowding.
The overcrowding is one of many reasons the Fayette county prison board wants to build a new facility.
There are currently 242 inmates at the Fayette County jail; another 77 are being housed out of county. It’s a housing solution that has cost the county nearly a million dollars so far this year.
“We are paying rent for something that we could own,” said Fayette County Controller Sean Lally.
The firm Crabtree and Rorhbach prepared a needs assessment, detailing the options to the prison board.
If no action is taken, the prison will have an annual operating budget of $11.3 million. If the current prison is renovated and expanded, the cost drops to $10.4 million.
Building a new prison will cost the county just $8.3 million per year.
“Because a new facility is so much more cost effective, more efficient, we can actually save money over what we’re doing right now,” said Al Ambrosini, the Fayette County Commissioner.
The roughly $30 million facility would be built on a 20-acre plot behind the Fayette County Fairgrounds. The cost supplemented by money from Marcellus Shale and the casino.
The public will get a chance to sound off at four hearings, the first of which takes place tonight at Penn State Fayette.