Pennsylvania Prison Mistakenly Held Inmate 17 Months Too Long

By Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi
May 25, 2016 Updated: May 25, 2016

Lancaster County Prison Warden Cheryl Steberger admitted in a statement on May 23 that an inmate had overstayed his or her welcome—by an extra 17 months.

“We publicly acknowledge our mistake to assure the community that Lancaster County officials not only profoundly regret its impact on the individual, but to make clear that such situations are unacceptable,” Steberger said in the statement. “The ongoing investigation conducted has revealed a continuing need to improve Lancaster County Prison as an organization, and, specifically, to revise processes for the storage, filing and review of documents.”

The inmate, who according to LancasterOnline wishes to remain anonymous, was scheduled to be released on November 25, 2014. The individual, however, remained jailed until late April, 2016.

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In the statement, Steberger said charges against another inmate with the same last name were accidentally duplicated and placed into both inmates’ case files.

Steberger said it was her’s and the jail’s intentions to quickly publicize the mistake and apologize. Attempts to reach the warden were unsuccessful.

LancasterOnline reported that in light of the mistake, the jail plans to review and revamp its case file-managing system.

Some estimates, according to RatyNews, say it costs about $70 a day to deal with an inmate in the jail—suggesting the error value at around $32,000.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) estimates that since 1978, the United States’ prison population has risen more than 400 percent—roughly 1 in 110 adults are in a prison or local jail, and 1 in 35 are under some form of correctional control, including parole, probation and jail time.

ACLU says “in order for our system to do a good job, it must be cost-effective by using our taxpayer dollars and public resources wisely, in an evidence-based rather than fear-based manner.”

Lancaster County Jail, Pennsylvania. (Google Maps image)
Lancaster County Jail, Pennsylvania. (Google Maps image)
Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi