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Drug-related crimes causing prison population spike


Reported By: Gary Sinderson
Written By: Marc Stempka

BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- The heroin and drug problems throughout the area are undeniable. The strain the problem is placing on county services, like prison and social services in Centre County, is directly impacting tax players, according to county officials.

County officials said the overcrowding issue at the Centre County Correctional Facility is directly linked to the number of inmates dealing with drug and alcohol problems, who then require additional counseling.

County administrators have been conducting meetings with court and prison personnel on the status of the county lockup, where it's nearly at capacity. Many of the inmates are not considered violent offenders, but the inmates are placed there for committing other crimes caused by drug or alcohol problems.

Centre County Administrator Tim Boyde said nearly 300 inmates, more than two thirds, are in line for specialized counseling.

"I would say we're probably looking at about 70 to 75 percent of our folks have touched our inmate [identified] drug and alcohol system at one point or another throughout their process," Boyde said.

That number is not usual, according to county officials. The growing impact of heroin addiction is a sizable factor with many in jail, and that heroin epidemic is fueling other crimes.

Cindy Arbogast with the county's drug and alcohol counseling services, said providing services to so many inmates with such a small budget is becoming more of a challenge and they need more money.

"Recently our outpatient providers have come to us [saying] we have more individuals seeking outpatient services," Arbogast said. "They're in an outpatient service longer and we've worked with the county to identify some additional funds to try to assist our outpatient providers. We’re managing things as closely as we can."

There have also been talks in Centre County about setting up a separate drug court, but those are in preliminary stages, officials said.

Local police departments reported seeing more burglaries, robberies and other crimes where suspects cite drug use as reasons for committing offenses.

Drug-related crimes causing prison population spike

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