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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Open House At Women’s Residential Rehab Center

Potter County Today

womenscenterAn open house on Thursday introduced the public to the new Potter County Women’s Residential Rehabilitation Center, which is scheduled to open soon in the former Northern Tier Children’s Home in Harrison Valley. 

Many women who would otherwise be sent to jails in Lock Haven, Wellsboro or other towns will serve their time at the center, where they’ll receive a host of services designed to reduce the likelihood that they’ll be back in court. 

Thursday’s open house included a tour of the center and introduction of administrators and staff. Melissa Gee (right) of Potter County Human Services has been named center administrator. She’s shown at the open house speaking with Deb Rudy, district aide for State Senator Joe Scarnati, and Phil Vaughn, president of the Northern Tier Children’s Home board of directors. Among other attendees were President Judge Stephen Minor, Potter County Commissioners Susan Kefover, Doug Morley and Paul Heimel, State Representative Matt Baker and other members of the children’s home board of directors.

It’s a project of the Potter County Board of Commissioners and has been spearheaded by Human Services Administrator Jim Kockler, who said there’s no center like it in Pennsylvania and few others in the nation. The facility will house non-violent female inmates, many of whom are in need of substance abuse and/or mental health treatment, employability support, educational assistance and other services. 

The county pays an average of $70 per day to rent jail cells in other counties, since the Potter County Jail is not equipped to house women. Cost savings from keeping those inmates in Potter County are expected to offset expenses at the new center. A state grant has been secured to subsidize the operations for the first two years. Discussions are underway with officials from neighboring counties about sending their female offenders to the center.

Judge Stephen Minor and District Attorney Andy Watson will have to approve each defendant who’s sentenced to the facility. Potter County Probation Department will also be involved. The program complements the county’s “specialty courts” project, providing special handling of criminal cases involving alcoholics and other drug addicts. 

The women will be housed in a residential setting, where families will able to visit and participate in structured counseling sessions with the detainee. A complementary effort is underway to improve re-entry services for men who are nearing their release at the Potter County Jail. The Community Re-Entry Initiative has been drafted by a committee from the Potter County Criminal Justice Advisory Board and will soon be implemented.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We should be proud of Potter County for pursuing this. The last string of comments on here about this topic had some pretty outlandish errors in terms of facts. The last paragraph here speaks to one of those complaints somebody posted on here earlier. Let's not tear down everything that anybody tries to do to improve the way things are done. With that kind of thinking we end up just settling for "close enough" which is not a very flattering motto.