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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Mighty Fortress is Our Jail

A few weeks ago, I accidentally took a great picture of Bethlehem's Unitarian Universalist Church. Dana Grubb, a real photographer, explained to me that at this time of year, streaks of late afternoon sun make a photograph look better.

It looks like the county jail is going to be a topic of discussion, so I decided to snap a few pics of the hoosegaw. But I waited until later in the afternoon, hoping to get a good shot. What you see above is the best I could do. I cut off part of the building and the photo seems more focused on the streetlight.

It sucks, but the fortress-like appearance is there to intimidate. A reader also mentioned the Monroe County facility off of Route 33, surrounded by barbed wire, which looks very depressing.

This is what most people think about when they think of a jail, so it's little wonder that people would be irritated by the prospect of one near them.

But one point NorCo Corrections Director Dan Keen drove home in his presentation yesterday, and one I failed to make clear, is that new jails look nothing like these castles surrounded by moats in which sharks patrol with laser beams attached to their heads  They instead look like schools or office buildings.

Also, I really have no idea where the jail is going, if anywhere, but I told Nazareth Borough Solicitor Al Pierced yesterday that it's going in the Nazareth Circle.

"That's too small!" he exclaimed.

"They're going up," I lied, explaining it would be a tower. "It's the latest in prison science."

Pierce walked away mumbling to himself, although I think I made out "asshole."

As I snapped away yesterday, a fellow came out and asked me if I have permission from Keen to photograph the jail. I told him I did not and added I needed no permission to photograph the outside of a public building. Besides, I'm an award-winning broadcast journalist. The fellow was pretty nice about it and told me he'd inform Keen for me.

He obviously had mental health training

Guys, I'll be back today or Saturday because my pics suck. Don't tase me, bro'.


Anonymous said...

My idea of a prison is to dig a large hole in the ground. Surround it with a high-voltage electrified fence, razor wire, guard towers and very bright searchlights. Inside the hole, some rudimentary buildings can be put up to house the convicts. But it's important that the view out of the buildings be that of the dirt walls of the hole. Nothing green or scenic to look at. Pit bulls should be sent into the hole as well so the convicts stay in their buildings.

The prison we have is just fine. Keep it intimidating, not the expensive resort this buy wants to build

Ovem Lupo Commitere said...

"Don't tase me, bro"

You do a lot of serious, informative stories, so thank you. A valuable service to local good governance.

On a lighter note, the joke you concluded with reminds me of a story I saw on the evening news a year or two ago about a donut shop run as a side business by police officers with a sense of humor. Amongst the novelties they also sold, was a t-shirt saying, "Don't glaze me, bro."

Happy Friday.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Reibman for today's prison crisis. Your 100 million dollar bond could have worked well for the communities but you were driven by the political benefits of the bond more than the needs of our County. Now we have Mr. Cusick joining you in the liars club.

Bernie O'Hare said...

5:33, Lehigh County had that same ugly attitude and was ordered by a federal court to build a jail,and pretty much lost control over how it should be done or the cost. We'd rather not make the same stupid mistake, thank you very much. .

Anonymous said...

"Thank you Mr. Reibman for today's prison crisis. "

Reibman at least put a new wing on the Jail. More than anyone else has done recently.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Reibman for doing something. The one poster has re-written history. There was a real plan. One phase was finished. The plan that I believe cost millions was still there when John Stoffa threw it in the garbage. He wanted his human Services building as a monument to himself and wanted to discard everything else.

There was also a private firm's plan for Gracedale that was fixing it. That too went in the garbage because he wanted the place gone.

So rather than numerous new bodings that are monuments to ego, maybe the millions spent on a plan should finally be put to use and Mr. Brown should finish the plan instead of more pie in the sky ideas of a prison in the middle of the county that will never be built.

Anonymous said...

The first comment makes good sense, guards could have one tower too watch the hole hole? Don't let developers down at the local carnival get wind of this or next thing you know vacant mineholes will become the nue commoddtiey?

Anonymous said...

A new prison will be a better place to live than some of the rotten homes these convicts come from in the first place.

Bernie O'Hare said...

5:35, Reibman's plan was never thrown in the garbage. But as most people who are not drinking the kool-aid know, it was a terrible plan. His first phase resulted in the demolition of a state-of-the-art archives, one that was toured by other counties throughout the state. The design is what Keen calls "old school" and exposes officers and inmates to safety risks. Stoffa wanted desperately to do something about the jail, and is responsible for the new work release center that took much of the pressure off the jail. Stoffa was stuck for six years with a Council that actively attempted to sabotage him. Charles Dertinger and Ann MccHale opposed everything, often out of pure spite. He was unable to get a centralized human services building until they were gone, and that was an emergency unless you think there's nothing wrong with kids eating lead paint and batshit during visitation. The name of the building is Human Services Building. It is not a monument to anyone's ego. The same is true of the nameless work release center, that McHale opposed out of nothing more than spite. If Stoffa had one more year in office, he would have done something about the jail. Now it is the unenviable task of John Brown and the current council. Hopefully, there will be no council members who are spiteful like McHale and Dertinger. You are one of their lackeys, if not McHale or Dertinger yourself. Full of hate. Hopefully they will try to do the right thing, whatever that is. I don't pretend to have the answers, but know that if they intend to move, they need to really listen to everyone. Now you go take a Xanax or have a martini

Anonymous said...

WOW O'Hare the only Kool-Aid is the Stoffa/Angle stuff you must be drinking or snorting. We all know you have been the propaganda machine for the boys for years. The prison expansion was exactly the new type that is recommended. Your hero bankrupted the county with his horror tales that you keep replaying of evil lead paint and collapsing ceilings. That can happen when you don't do any maintence for years to get what you want. Thank God for a sensible county council. Once Angle got his puppets in, the flood gates opened and taxes flowed out. As well as letting the nursing home fall apart.

In your addled brain he is a hero. In reality people know the real story regarding the three of you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You are a flat out liar, forgetting that one expansion has already been done. It is old school, old design. That proves my point. The problem with maintenance began long before Stoffa was Exec. The Wolf building had been rotting away throughout all of Reibman's year and Brackbill years with no maintenance. Stoffa recognized something had to be done, and was finally able to do so after McHale and Dertinger were gone. The people who work in the new HS building are quite happy, and so are the residents who use it. It was refreshing to have an Exec who was willing to serve the people instead of monied interests.The nursing home had been falling apart as well. This maintenance lapse is completely administrative and had nothing to do with Ron. The courthouse expansion ($43 million) was completely unnecessary, and so was the $29 MM in corporate welfare. The county should have walked away from the courthouse and let the judges have the entire building and build offices at Gracedale. It would have then have had money and space for a meaningful jail expansion. What we got instead is a monstrosity that insults the very people it is supposed to serve, a demolished archives, no parking improvements and a half-assed jail expansion that has been nothing but a problem.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am not hosting additional comments slamming Stoffa and bringing Angle in on items he had nothing to do with unless and until the cowards ID themselves.

Anonymous said...

Stop the blame game and get on with a planned bi-partisan solution to the impending crisis. Start talking seriously about the future needs of the courts and the tax payers. Work together instead of griping about the past. Werner and Phillips and others see the need to work this out. Brown needs to bend also and stop pontificating and listen to the options. The jail is a pen stroke away from being declared a human rights violation of Federal law. Werner showing leadership skills the current executive has no idea about.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Is Werner the Exec? It is not Werner, but Dan Keen, who made a presentation. He works for Brown, not Werner. And to be honest, he could have made that presentation in 2008. Or 2000. You see, he past is important, except to idiots who do not learn lessons from history. Are you an idiot?.

We've all known, as since at least 2000, that we need a new jail. At least those of us who have been paying attention. Reibman submitted a plan and got a $22 MM expansion. Stoffa said we needed to do something and actually wanted to move all county offices to Gracedale so there would be room for a new jail in Easton. He got a work release center.

You haven't mentioned cost, but I know what it was in 2008. It would cost somewhere between $130-160 million. Where is that money going to come from? Back in 2008, Angle asked, "Who the hell wants a new jail?" The answer is nobody. Certainly not taxpayers.

Even if the jail stays in place, and we know from Keen it should not, where is our leader Bob Werner going to get the money? Does he have a money tree?

Also, this is NOT a political issue, yet I see that Werner is attempting to make it one.

Werner has already stuck his foot in his mouth when he advocated a $5 hike in car registration fees. Now he is doing the same thing again by wanting to go full speed ahead on the jail without taking a hard look at the numbers. Ken kraft goes along bc he is licking his chops at union construction jobs.

The jail is not a pen stroke away from a court order. That would take quite sometime. Use it wisely, not foolishly. And knock off the politics.

Inmates at the jail are very important, but so are taxpayers. Wait for the numbers.

Anonymous said...

If my memory serves me correctly, Seyfried also did a prison expansion as well as expanding the work release facility. He told us the expansion should take us out to the year (I Believe but not certain on this) 2020. One thing every Executive learned, "you cannot build your way out of a prison". Reibman also expanded the prison. Stoffa attempted to enhance all of their work. All these projects failed. Money wasted. The time of band-aids is passed. Real reform is necessary. Bricks and mortar is not the answer by itself.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hence CEC, which the County abandoned.