Released: April 6, 2022
Delaware County assumed full operational control of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility from The GEO Group, a national for-profit operator of prisons on April 6, 2022. The transition is the result of more than two years of planning and preparation and represents an end to Delaware County’s status as Pennsylvania’s only county to have a for-profit prison.
“Today marks an enormous milestone and a shift in how Delaware County treats incarceration: a multi-national corporation whose very existence relies on keeping our jails full has been replaced by a County management team laser-focused on preparing inmates for life on the outside and reducing recidivism,” said Delaware County Councilman Kevin Madden, who led Council’s efforts to deprivatize the County’s jail and chairs the Jail Oversight Board. “I am extremely proud of the thoughtful and deliberate work that has gone into this process and want to thank everyone – from the community leaders and activists who have called for this change for years, to the outside consultants who worked with us on the handover, and to the men and women who work at the jail – for all that you did to assist the County in making this transition. I would also like to thank The Geo Group for their cooperation in this process.”
Laura K. Williams was named the new warden of the jail in February 2022 and is leading the efforts to reduce recidivism.
“I believe that jail can be an opportunity for inmates to pay their debt to society and become healthy, contributing members of the community,” said Warden Williams. “We owe it to them and to the entire community to provide support and training to inmates so they can lead productive lives when they are released and return to our community as our neighbors.”
The deprivatization of the county jail is one of several ways that Delaware County is changing its approach to public safety and justice.
County Council has worked in partnership with the District Attorney to make significant investments in community-based policing and greater investigative resources in the Criminal Investigation Division to reduce gun violence. The County has also greatly expanded its investment in diversionary programs and efforts to make the criminal justice system more efficient for all involved. County Council has also made significant investments to upgrade the radio systems for our first responders, keeping them safe while they keep the residents of Delaware County safe.
During the April 6 County Council meeting, Councilman Madden detailed the work that has been done to transition the prison to the County and also cautioned that the work at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility is far from finished. “Keep in mind that today isn’t just the end of one era in Delaware County – it is also the beginning of the hard work that will be required to translate our words into actions. It took over two years of planning and preparation to get to this point -- and it will take time for us to achieve all that needs to be done,” said Madden. “But by working together and keeping the commitment to making our jail a place that strengthens, rather than weakens our residents, we will get it done.”