Editorial: Delco Prison / Too many deaths

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, Fri, May. 2, 2008

Too many inmates are dying at Delaware County’s jail.

Since 2005, at least eight inmates have died at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornton, the only privately run jail in Pennsylvania. The latest fatality is Kenneth Kallenbach, 39, who died April 24 after contracting pneumonia at the lockup. He had been held there awaiting trial since mid-March.

………GEO Group, which operates the facility, has faced lawsuits over these deaths. It has problems elsewhere. In Texas, where GEO runs more than a dozen prisons, it has come under criticism for alleged mismanagement and foul conditions. One inspector called an adult facility in Texas operated by GEO the worst he’d ever seen.

……..Delaware County has been paying GEO more than $30 million annually to run its jail. County officials have boasted that they were saving $1 million per year by outsourcing the prison operation. They should be asking whether another outfit could do a better job, or whether this for-profit model is even working.