New Policies at Dauphin County Prison Further Mission to Improve Operations, Increase Transparency

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Dauphin County Prison officials are implementing a set of search policies as part of ongoing reform to working procedures – the first such effort in decades.

The ten search policies are accompanied by an operating policy for the Community Advisory Committee, which has been active since last year.

The policies are either new or revisions to existing policies, which were last reviewed at length and updated in 1995.

All policies were reviewed by legal counsel prior to approval by the Prison Board on Feb. 24.

“These policies will provide an updated guide of procedures for our staff, while prioritizing the rights and privacies of the inmates,” Director of Corrections Brian Clark said.

The search policies cover a number of search scenarios and locations, to include staff and visitor searches, as well as searches of vehicles operated by those who enter the prison.

“For the first time in decades, we are overhauling policy, so inmates and staff are better protected,” said Dauphin County Commissioner and Prison Board Chair Mike Pries. “There will be more improvements to come.”

Included in the policies are inmate cell searches, “shakedown” operations, and cavity and strip searches.

“The purpose of these policies is multi-faceted,” Commissioner Chair Jeff Haste said. “To make staff aware and clear on working procedures, and so inmates have their privacy rights protected.”

The prison recently implemented a body camera program (with an accompanying policy) regarding corrections officers and other staff members interacting with inmates.

“The goals are transparency and public trust that what happens at the prison is open to inspection,” Commissioner George Hartwick III said. “In companion with stationary cameras that always run, the body camera program is another step to achieving those goals.”

The Prison Board approved the policies in a blanket motion at the Feb. 24 meeting.

“These are well-crafted policies that will protect inmates, staff, and the public,” District Attorney Fran Chardo said after the meeting. “These policies provide prison staff with clear guidance while protecting the rights of inmates, visitors, and others subject to search.”

The Community Advisory Committee consists of the Pennsylvania Secretary of Pardons, a pair of formerly incarcerated persons, and staff from the Attorney General’s Office and Representative Patty Kim.

- In a recent unrelated action, a new website for the prison was launched.

The prison’s website has been overhauled to make it more user-friendly and emphasize the range of services and programs available to eligible inmates.

Also, Prison Board meeting schedules, agenda, and minutes will be easily accessible on the site.

District Attorney Chardo said at the Feb. 24 meeting that those minutes are often voluminous and very informative for the public.

The website can be viewed HERE.

(Due to COVID-19, not all programs are currently available and/or are restricted.)

Dauphin County’s Information Technology team, led by Director Elizabeth Zeigler Parry, overhauled the website with input from prison and county officials.

“The website gives relatives and friends of those incarcerated, and the public, insight and information on what is available to inmates and how they can be communicated with easier,” Director Clark said.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett Hambright, Press Secretary, 717-780-6311;