CONNELLSVILLE (KDKA) — The Fayette County Prison is in need of an upgrade.

It’s the second oldest operating facility in the state of Pennsylvania.

The aging facility currently holds 251 inmates. Another 76 are being housed in other counties at a cost of $1.5 million per year to taxpayers.

The inmates are housed in counties including: Armstrong, Bedford, Butler, Cambria, Centre and Greene.

In the women’s quarters, bunk beds have replaced dining tables in a common area to accommodate a growing population. Thirty-one women share one toilet and one shower.

On the men’s floors, blocks that once held 22 inmates now hold closer to 30. The inmates share a small cell with a toilet, desk and bunk bed, while the newest inmates sleep on cots on the floor in a common area.

In the basement, cots fill an area that was once a chapel. A new commit might spend up to three nights there while waiting to be processed and placed.

More than 700 meals per day have to be prepared in a kitchen the size of one you would see in a small house.

The prison is 124-years-old, built before the days of air conditioning and modern ventilation.

The overcrowding causes inmates to become agitated, making security more challenging for the corrections officers.

“We’re doing the best we can, no one has escaped, no one got out,” said Lt. Larry Chapman, of the Fayette County Prison, “but if we keep running in this fashion it’s only a matter of time till maybe end up getting COs get hurt, inmates get hurt bad.”

During the Department of Corrections most recent evaluation, the outdated facility was found to be at only 43 percent compliance with the current American Correctional Facility Standards.

The Fayette County Prison Board has recommended building a new $30 million prison on land adjacent to the Fayette County Fairgrounds, a project they say will not cause a boost in taxes.

The Fayette County Commissioners will vote on building the new prison at their regularly scheduled Oct. 15 meeting.

Fayette County Officials Weigh Building New Prison (9/25/13)
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