Barrar Bill Seeks to Notify Local Residents of Prison Escapes
8/26/2010

After three incidents at the Delaware County Prison in which violent criminals were improperly released due to clerical errors, Rep. Stephen E. Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware) is introducing legislation to require public notification of prison escapes or accidental discharges.

 

“I am concerned about the safety of the residents in the area of the prison and the community at large,” said Barrar.  “These were serious criminals who were released – all with a history of violence.  We must ensure that the public is properly notified when incidents such as this occur.  Citizens pay for our prisons with their tax dollars and they have a right to know when there is a threat to public safety.”

 

Barrar noted the 160th District includes two county prisons.  He began working on this legislation in June and is preparing to host a meeting with elected officials and citizens to review the legislation and make sure the bill offers the best system of notification for residents.

 

In mid-June, an accused killer was released from the county prison after a clerical error.  He later turned himself into authorities.  On Aug. 4, an inmate who had a history of robbery and a recent conviction on firearm charges was released from the prison because of missed paperwork.  During the same time period, a prisoner facing simple assault and robbery charges was wrongly released on bail after a judge had rescinded her bail order.  The prisoners involved in the most recent incidents are still at large, and the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Violent Crimes Task Force are actively searching for one of them.

 

Barrar’s legislation would specify notification requirements for all state, local, and community-based correctional facilities in the event of a prison escape, accidental release, unauthorized absence or removal of a detained person.  The legislation would apply to adult and juvenile offenders, as well as criminals confined to mental health facilities.  Residents within a two-mile radius of correctional facilities would receive notification, along with schools within a 10-mile radius.

 

“The news of these incidents was not revealed to the public until weeks after they occurred,” said Barrar.  “We need a system of immediate notification to protect the lives and safety of our citizens.  Additionally, these criminals may have been readily apprehended by law enforcement if the public had been alerted of their releases.  Many fugitives are caught with the help of concerned citizens who witness the whereabouts of criminals and report them to the authorities.  At this point, these two prisoners could be long gone and a threat to a community in another area of the state or country.”

 

More information about Barrar’s legislative proposals can be found at SteveBarrar.com or Facebook.com/RepBarrar.

 

Rep. Stephen E. Barrar

160th District

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(610) 485-7606

(717) 783-3038

Member Site:  SteveBarrar.com

Contact:  Nicole Wamsley

House Republican Public Relations

(717) 783-8063

Caucus Site:  PAHouseGOP.com

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