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Centre County Commissioners vote in favor of next step toward outdoor recreation at correctional facility

The front facade of the Centre County Correctional Facility
James Engel
The front facade of the Centre County Correctional Facility

The Centre County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a proposal Tuesday in what could eventually bring outdoor recreation to the Centre County Correctional Facility.

Currently, inmates in the county facility do not have access to traditional outdoor recreation yards. County Administrator John Franek Jr. said the facility’s “urban rec yards” are compliant with Pennsylvania prison codes.

But, he said, months of community interest and calls from Central PA United, a local political action group, led to the discussions moving from the Prison Board to a commission vote.

The county's request for qualifications asks for firms interested in performing a feasibility study and analysis to determine what alterations or additions to the county prison may be possible.

Franek said the county is “confident” there will be interested parties, but they don’t know exactly what the recommendations will be.

“We don’t know, at this point, what will be recommended, whether it will be enhancements to the existing yards or potentially traditional outdoor rec yards,” he said. “That’s yet to be determined.”

Central PA United Director Jenna Henry thanked the commissioners for looking into the options of outdoor recreation for inmates, citing the importance of the outdoors in mental health.

“If I don’t get outside, I immediately notice it in my mental health. My mental health suffers in the winter time when I can’t get outside,” Henry said. “That’s how important this is.”

Responses from interested firms are due May 10, according to Warden Glenn Irwin. Franek said issuing the request for proposals is a “first step” in what could potentially be a years-long process.

James Engel is a WPSU news intern and senior at Penn State.