It’s been almost 2 months since the initial public meeting was held at a local church to discuss the Wernersville Community Corrections Center. On Thursday May 20 a follow-up meeting was held at the WCCC to follow-up on the progress of items brought to the attention of the Director and Staff at CCC during the initial meeting.
The first meeting brought out over 100 local residents, many of whom came with anger, concern, fear and frustration. This second meeting, there were barely 30 local residents in attendance. Honestly, I was kind of embarrassed that so many came out to demand actions and answers, and now after much progress has been made, not near as many attended. I will say that at least 10 or more residents spoke up and thanked CCC for the noticeable changes and response to local community requests and suggestions.
Many things that were asked for were addressed; curfew is now 7:00 PM unless a resident has a job which keeps him out later; residents no longer can walk along 422 and into Wernersville and the surrounding areas; residents are to stay on the grounds of the center; CBFC offers bus runs to various locals – grocery store, job searches; there are now only 2 sign outs per day rather than 3, and these sign outs must be planned and approved the prior week.; wires have been installed for a facility computer lab – waiting on equipment; CCC is in the process of getting quotes for food vendors – but based on a suggestion by the community, a lunch truck now visits; increased vending is being implemented i.e. cigarettes; a running route and rec area has been outlined on campus. Census numbers were posted for all to see the numbers of residents and the crimes committed leading to incarceration.
CCC has established a community roundtable and encourages participation. This roundtable is held at CCC at 9:00 AM on the first Tuesday of each month. If you would like to participate, contact Michelle Zvorsky at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling the Center at 610-621-5360. Michelle is also working on, and with many volunteer opportunities such as Adopt a Highway; residents have already helped with projects in Robesonia borough and Encore located on State Hospital Grounds. The residents have buffed floors, gardened and painted – some for the required 8 hours of community service, but most for nothing more than the good feeling of having contributed. There is always room to grow, per Tracy Jacobson, and if anyone from the local community has a skill or trade to share, to help these men fit into communities better (i.e. cooking, budgeting, parenting), Michelle would like to hear from you. There is currently an opening for a Family Alliance teacher, which is per diem. Any interested parties, again – contact Michelle. Since the initial meeting, there are at least 55 community volunteers, some of whom attended that meeting, serving both inside and outside of the facility.
Questions were still raised regarding how drug and/or alcohol issues are handled. There are random canine drug searches, weekly property searches, and weekly urine tests. Breathalyzer tests are also done upon return from sign outs. A recent incident where a resident tried to bring alcohol into the Center, got him a free pass back to state prison within 2 hours.
A monthly newsletter is now published and available currently at local borough halls, post offices and libraries. In the near future, a website will be available with information regarding staff, programs, volunteer opportunities and frequently asked questions about the CCC.
It was noted that this is the first opening of such a center in more than 16 years, and none of the panel members were involved in such a startup. It’s a new experience where not much time was given before the Center was to be up and running. Now, other state Centers are looking to Wernersville CCC for examples in managing and running their Centers.
Ms. Jacobson offered tours to anyone in the Community, who wants to take a tour and learn more about the CCC. Please contact Tracy at the Center number 610 621-5360.
Personally, I’d like to again thank Representative Jim Cox, Senator Mike Folmer, Tracey Jacobson and all the staff and residents of the Wernersville CCC for doing their best to fit into our Community. I appreciate the diligence of WCCC for trying to maintain, in one gentleman’s words, a ‘good neighbor policy’.
From your Our Robesonia Reporter at Large….Beth Sattizahn