Prison inmates' law library goes electronic Effort to save money
nThe electronic library will be updated monthly and will be housed in hard drives on computers that do not connect to the Internet, Moyer said. The computers will be shielded to protect them, but inmates will be able to use a keyboard. BY DAN NEPHIN, Staff Writer
Updating law books that Lancaster County Prison inmates use costs $5,000 each month, with that sum taken from an inmate-funded account.
And having a physical library requires "hours and hours" of prison staff time to retrieve and shelve books and regularly order new ones, said Tammy Moyer, director of prison administration.
The county and inmates both are expected to save money after the county commissioners Wednesday approved switching to an electronic law library.
The electronic library and necessary equipment from Westlaw/Thomson Reuters will cost about $31,400 the first year, with up to 5 percent increases in the second and third years of the three-year contract.
The switch represents a savings of about $126,000 over the cost of replacing books using the inmate fund, plus staff time, Moyer said.
The electronic library will be updated monthly and will be housed in hard drives on computers that do not connect to the Internet, Moyer said. The computers will be shielded to protect them, but inmates will be able to use a keyboard.
The change also will eliminate the ability of inmates to pass notes to one another inside of books, Moyer said. Inmates also rip pages from the legal books.
The prison is required to provide a law library for inmates, according to commissioners chairman Scott Martin and Jacquelyn Pfursich, assistant county solicitor.
While the commissioners unanimously approved the plan, the prison board must still approve it.
Martin, who is on the prison board, said he believes the board will approve the project. The prison board meets this month.
The commissioners also unanimously approved an $18,786 contract with Michael Baker Jr. Inc. to edit the county's recent aerial photography data to determine so-called "edge-of-pavement" features.
That means roads, driveways longer than 200 feet and parking lots with five or more spaces, said Glenn Mohler, the county's geographic information system manager.
He said the data will be useful for emergency responders to determine how best to access buildings, particularly in rural areas. Planning departments also can use the information to estimate impervious surfaces.
The county already has used data from the latest aerial photography of the county, taken last spring, to map buildings 400 square feet and larger, and hydrodata -- streams, ponds and lakes.
Michael Baker, of Harrisburg, was the lowest of nine bidders.