Monday February 5, 2018
County should learn from problems at privately run halfway houses.
I attended the state House Judiciary Committee public hearing on Jan. 25 regarding the safety of individuals at community corrections facilities ("Hearing blasts halfway houses," Reading Eagle, Jan. 26). Department of Corrections personnel, former inmates, family members, law enforcement officials and even the Berks County coroner testified.
The stories told about the ADAPPT halfway house were alarming, involving illegal drug use, rodent infestation and people overdosing and dying while residents. There have been nine fatalities at ADAPPT since 2014.
ADAPPT management is outsourced to GEO Group, a Florida-based for-profit corporation. The state paid GEO $7.6 million over 16 months to run ADAPPT.
Despite serious issues at ADAPPT, GEO management didn't attend the hearing. Rep. Jerry Knowles called the absence an insult to the committee.
Rep. Mark Gillen said, "With GEO executives making in excess of $1 million a year, they could have certainly afforded a $400 plane ticket from Florida."
It's outrageous that taxpayer dollars are going to a $2 billion corporation while people are dying in its care. GEO has been sued for poor treatment, settled a class-action lawsuit and was sued by the Mississippi attorney general for bribing public officials. Now it wants to take over the county jail.
We should reject privatization of Berks County Prison.
William M. Shappell
President, Teamsters Local 429
Editor's note: Teamsters Local 429 represents employees at Berks
Issues point to folly of prison privatization