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State Prison System Takes Over County Jail

The board announced its move on Monday, November 30, 2020, while the DOC announced the following day it was assigning the deputy superintendent of its State Correctional Institute at Houtzdale, Bobbi Jo Salaman, to run the jail for a 30-day period.

When pressed by the media, the board president Josh Lang stated that “operational concerns” caused the suspension he characterized as “leave” for Troy Nelson and Rocky Beranazzoli. The only two specifics stated were that the action was not a COVID-19 issue but a “personnel problem.” No other specifics were given.

Although refusing to answer when asked if criminal conduct was suspected or involved, the County Board did notify the district attorney, prison board and president judge of their actions when the announcement was made.

Preparations were arranged between the County Board and DOC earlier in November. Pursuant to an intergovernmental agreement the DOC will assess the jail’s operation while providing an acting warden to oversee the operations and assessment for a 30-day period. DOC Secretary John Wetzel told the media, “We are glad to assist the county, and we believe these steps taken today provide a good opportunity for the county and correctional facility officials to get on the right path to operating a sound prison.”

With only 130 beds, the Bedford County Correctional Facility (BCCF) hardly qualifies as a “prison,” particularly as it holds pre-trial detainees and that the county rather than the state is paying the bill for DOC personnel to operate and assess its policies and procedures.

This is not an unprecedented move. During his brief media disclosures, Lang stated, “As the county, we believed it was best to contact the (Department of Corrections) which has conducted these reviews recently, including in Blair County, to do a complete 360-degree review of the facility.”  


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