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Security to be boosted at Pa. prison

June 22, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Television cameras and additional lighting will soon be added at the Franklin County to prevent contraband from getting in and prisoners getting out, after the Board of County Commissioners approved an emergency resolution Thursday.

The resolution will allow the prison to spend up to $12,000 for the new security measures aimed at preventing a repeat of an escape like the one that occurred April 19 when two inmates used smuggled hacksaw blades to cut their way through a cell window.

The two Maryland men, Steven L. Silverman and Scott C. Taylor, were captured in May in Maryland. Silverman was awaiting trial for stealing 30 handguns from a sporting goods store in Chambersburg and Taylor was being held on charges he stole a vehicle in the Waynesboro, Pa., area.

Five remote cameras will be added to the roof of the main prison building on Franklin Farm Lane and directed toward the razor-wire topped fence that surrounds three sides of the prison, according to the Commissioners' Office. The cameras, which will be connected to a monitor in the prison's control center.

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The emergency resolution allows Warden Ray Rosenberry to spend up to $5,000 on the system.

Nine 1,000-watt sodium lights will be added to the existing light poles at the prison at a cost of up to $7,000, according to the resolution. The additional lighting will double the candle power of the lighting around the prison perimeter.

"We believe that the security of the prison is of the utmost priority and that these measures will enhance the ability of the jail to keep the prisoners where they belong, away from the public," County Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said.

Elliott said the new measures will also prevent "the introduction of materials that could jeopardize our staff and aid in their escape." Rosenberry said after the escape that the hacksaw blades had probably been tossed over or pushed through the chainlink perimeter fence.

Normally, projects costing more than $4,000 have to be advertised for bids, but the commissioners can allocate funds when they believe there is an immediate need, according to Assistant County Administrator Kelly Livermore. A few weeks ago the board approved an emergency resolution to add more razor wire at the prison, particularly between the top of the cell windows and the roof of the main building.

Rosenberry said last month Silverman and Taylor probably hoisted themselves onto the roof and escaped by jumping from the front of the building, which is not enclosed by a fence.

Exercise patrols of the exercise yard have also been doubled in an effort to keep hacksaw blades, tobacco and other contraband from being slipped through the fence during the night, Rosenberry said last month.

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