State lawmaker exploring legislation to expand county-level prison oversight

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Dauphin County State Representative Patty Kim is putting legislation together that would allow for the creation of prison oversight boards in counties with less than 500,000 people, including Dauphin, Cumberland, York.

“I think it is badly needed,” said Kim, “Right now Allegheny County has an oversight board, why not in other areas.”

Kim says the oversight boards would consist of four elected county officials and private citizens, and they would make decisions that would impact the daily operations and the inmate population.

Kim says the board would also have the authority to launch investigations, “It would help eliminate the skepticism,” said Kim and help change the perception that the board may be hiding things from the public.”

Dauphin County’s Prison Board is made up of elected county officials and employees. District Attorney Fran Chardo is a board member. He says they would with an independent advisory board and with inmate advocacy groups.

“We have gotten a lot done and often times I will get information from the prison board that I can act upon,” said Chardo, “I hear from the representatives of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, and I can take action, including helping inmates with medical issues or who request bail review, get those modifications expedited, in a time of need.”

Kim says she plans on getting more input from the public, and she hopes to have legislation drafted by the end of August. Chardo says he looking forward to speaking with Kim in the near future.

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