Prison to install tracking system

Computerized monitor will ‘create a safer environment’ for inmates and staff

HOLLIDAYSBURG — An effort to set up a computerized tracking system inside the Blair County Prison is moving forward.

When ready for use, the Guardian RFID Corrections System will be able to know where those inside the prison have been and what time they were there.

“It’s going to create a safer environment for our inmates and our staff,” Warden Abbie Tate told the prison board Thursday when she offered an update on the project.

The prison, built in 1868 and expanded in 1984 and 2004, has some very thick walls and limited access routes for the wiring and communication units that make up the Guardian system.

“We’ve gone through a lot of drill bits,” Tate said.

And in some cases, the way the prison is built offers no obvious routes for required connections.

“We’ve had to get creative in some instances,” Tate said.

Blair County leaders became interested in the Guardian system last year after learning that money toward the purchase could be secured through the Pennsylvania County Risk Pool program or PCoRP.

PCoRP is the insurance pool group organized under the County Commissioners Association that Blair County joined in 2017 to purchase insurance on county buildings, bridges, vehicles and others policies.

In advocating the county’s participation, commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb pointed to options available to PCoRP members interested in reducing liability risks.

Based on an estimate rendered in December, the county’s cost for the system was expected to be less than $9,000 because of PCoRP’s financial support.

When activated, Tate said the computerized tracking system will be capable of re­cording locations and times, something now kept inside the prison on paper, which may or may not be accurate.

With the computerized record, she said the prison will be in a better position to evaluate inmate arguments with conflicting accounts.

Tate also advised the prison board that measures being taken in preparation for the Guardian system will also pave the way for in­stalling more security cameras. An evaluation of the prison by a team from the state Depart­ment of Cor­rections recommended that the county in­stall more cameras to reduce areas outside the view of current cameras.