Released: December 28, 2022
During the December 14 Regular Public Council Meeting, George W. Hill Correctional Facility Warden Laura Williams provided an update to members of County Council and the public on the ongoing, historic changes at the facility and the plans to continue the progress being made.
In April, following a multi-year process of study and planning, the County reassumed control of the facility from a private management firm which was incentivized to profit from incarceration and did not place a priority on rehabilitation. George W. Hill houses people who have been accused of a crime and are awaiting a court hearing, or who have received a sentence of less than two years and it is a priority of the County to prepare them to be released back into the community and give them the tools they need to be healthy and contributing members of society.
Since April, under the leadership of Warden Williams, the jail has:
Increased the number of Correctional Officers
Instituted mental health and behavior change programs
Added a full-time instructor for education services
Secured a new healthcare provider
Switched food service
"Delaware County is striving to become a national leader for its work in transforming how we handle detainees and prepare them to become productive members of our community when they are released," said Warden Williams. "There has been a great deal of progress and I commend the George W. Hill Correctional Facility team for their work and dedication in helping us transform the prison.”
In her presentation to Council, Warden Williams highlighted a few of the steps the jail will undertake next year, including:
Continuing to increase the staff and expand and improve training
Making significant upgrades to the physical plant, including a new roof and new dining facilities
Improving access to technology
Increasing services for youthful offenders
Enhancing services for medications with opioid use disorders and other substance use/abuse disorders
Increasing education to include parenting, relationships, job readiness, and life skills
Expanding partnerships with local universities
Increasing community engagement and stakeholders for ease of re-entry and re-integration
"The tremendous strides that have been made over the eight months since the County assumed control of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility are clear evidence that it is possible to fundamentally rethink how public safety and justice are delivered in Delaware County," said Councilman Kevin Madden, who also chairs the Jail Oversight Board. "While we know there is much work to be done, we are proud of what we have accomplished, and we owe thanks to the many people who have been partners with us over the last three years, from the initial planning and studying phase through its ongoing operations. All that hard work is paying off."
Over the last three years, Delaware County has begun to fundamentally change our public safety and justice systems to create a safer community, including long-overdue reforms to our juvenile justice system.