CLARION – 2017 ended on a high note for the Clarion County Jail, as the Paint Township facility finished the year nearly $150,000 under budget.

In his report during the regular prison board meeting on Jan. 11, Warden Jeff Hornberger explained that the jail ended 2017 at just 94 percent of its original $2,574,407 budget.

“Everything was in check and we did come in under budget,” Hornberger explained to the board. 2017 marks the first year the jail has come in under budget in at least two years. “We were pretty glad to see that.”

According to Hornberger, the jail capped 2017 with an average daily population of 107.70 inmates, with an average of 83.28 male inmates and 24.42 female inmates.

“Our average population was actually not that high,” Hornberger said, noting while there were some higher months, the average daily population in 2017 dropped nearly six inmates per day from 2016’s average population of 113.37 inmates.

“We did drop a little bit, and that was nice to see,” Hornberger continued, adding that the Clarion County Jail has not seen a drop in its average population since at least 2011. In fact, numbers provided by the warden show that the population at the jail has steadily increased from 74.75 inmates in 2011, 77.86 inmates in 2012, 91.15 inmates in 2013, 99.93 inmates in 2014 and 104.82 in 2015.

In correlation with the decrease in population, Hornberger said that the average length of stay for inmates in 2017 was 55.21 days, which was down from the 2016 average of approximately 56 days. The average length of stay for male inmates last year was 58.28 days, while females only stayed an average of 46.80 days.

Despite the slight decrease in population, Hornberger said the cost to house an inmate in 2017 was $64.40 per day, an approximate $4 increase from 2016.

“That number includes anything that has to do with our budget including electricity, officer training and prison uniforms,” he said, adding that the local facility’s daily inmate cost is still well below the 2016 state average of $78.40. “And I’m sure that $78 will be a lot higher this year.”

Following the warden’s report, prison board chairman Commissioner Wayne Brosius commended Hornberger and deputy warden Dave Sprankle for operating a cost-effective operation in 2017.

“It was amazing that you were able to come in at 94 percent for last year,” Brosius said. “That was a tight budget to begin with. Great job.”

In other business during last week’s meeting, the prison board reorganized for the year, reelecting Brosius as chairman and District Attorney Mark Aaron as vice chairman.

Additional 2017 Jail Statistics:

• A total number of 134,685 meals were served at a cost of $1.32 per meal. This is an increase of two cents from 2016.

• There were a total of 714 active inmates from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 — 523 males and 191 females — who served a collective 39,419 days at the facility.

• According to Hornberger’s data, the busiest months for commitments were August with 63 commitments, September with 60 commitments, June and October with 59 commitments each, and January and June with 53 commitments each.

The highest months for releases were January with 64 and November with 61, followed closely by October with 60 and June and September with 56 releases.

There were a total of 608 commitments and 619 releases in 2017.

• Hornberger said 237 inmates were between the ages of 25 and 34, 151 inmates between 18 and 24, 120 inmates between 35 and 44 and 81 inmates between 45 and 54 years old. Twenty-five inmates were older than 55 years of age, while no inmates were under 18 years old.

• The most common offenses by inmates include: 118 probation/parole violations; 63 manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance charges; 55 driving under the influence of alcohol charges; 47 charges of use or possession of drug paraphernalia; and 45 possession of a controlled substance charges.

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