Lancaster County prison grapples with staffing shortage brought on by pandemic


LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The Lancaster County prison continues to grapple with an unprecedented staffing shortage. A shortage brought on by COVID-19 that Lancaster County Prison Warden Cheryl Steberger takes very seriously. It’s not easy to run a prison in the middle of a pandemic.

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“We have to work on concentrating on today and the challenges today brings. We were doing extremely well until the pandemic hit and it’s almost like the rest of the world is still going on and we’re still in this pandemic,” Steberger said.

An outbreak last month overwhelmed the prison infecting inmates and staff.

“We run 24/7 365 days a year so there is always needs to be met and our staff is dedicated to making it happen working hard and long hours,” Warden Steberger said.

Those long hours are taking a toll on staff.

“We’ve had many lockdowns where inmates cannot come out because we’re short-staffed so it’s hard for us to even get home sometimes because we don’t have enough bodies,” Arlene Diaz, a correctional officer at the Lancaster County Prison, said.

But a new sign-on bonus of $7,500 passed by the County Commissioners is looking to change that. The prison is looking to hire 67 correctional officers. This is an opportunity, the Warden says, to make a difference in the community.

“It’s about the comradery, and also the rewards of seeing the individuals you oversee each day out on the street and that are doing better, that are working with their families now, holding a job,” Steberger added.

For now, it’s the not knowing.

“How do we make it better in the meantime and the best environment for my staff and the inmates,” Steberger said.

If you want to be part of the solution, the job fair is happening at the Lancaster County Prison on Wednesday, Sept. 8, and again on Sept. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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