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WELFARE DEPARTMENT SELECTS CONTRACTOR FOR LOYSVILLE CENTER FENCE

 HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Public Welfare Secretary Karen F. Snider today announced that a Harrisburg, Pa. company has been awarded a $309,000 contract to erect a security fence around the Loysville Youth Development Center in Perry County.
 Tyson Fence Co. will begin installation of 3,500 feet of fence around the residential juvenile facility immediately. The contract calls for the fence to be finished by Nov. 5, with a $100-a-day penalty for late completion.
 "This fence will significantly boost the department's efforts to safeguard the health and safety of the staff, students and residents of the surrounding communities at the Loysville center," said Snider.
 The vinyl coated fence will be 14 feet high. The lower seven feet will be made of 1-3/4-inch chain link wire mesh and the upper seven feet of 3/4-inch chain link mesh. The smaller diameter mesh is designed to discourage students from climbing the fence. It will be topped with a two-foot, double-coiled maze of razor ribbon concertina wire.
 Installation of the fence is the latest in a series of moves by the department to enhance public safety after three students fled the facility at 2 a.m. on July 3. Two 15-year-old and one 17-year-old youths broke into several cars and extensively damaged a home.
 The incident was the worst in the history of the facility, which is regarded by juvenile court judges and probation officers as a highly successful program for juvenile offenders.
 An investigation showed that center staff acted responsibly and promptly. The department's Office of Children, Youth and Families, which operates Loysville and seven other residential juvenile facilities in Pennsylvania, conducted a comprehensive analysis of the facility that led to the decision to install a security fence.
 "This latest incident is evidence that we are dealing with tougher kids at our facilities," Snider said. "It is imperative that we keep pace with tougher, more sophisticated security measures."
 Other actions taken by the department include:
 -- Forming a community advisory committee in cooperation with state Sen. Howard F. Mowery (R-Perry) and state Rep. C. Allan Egolf (R-109). The group held its first meeting in early August.
 -- Hiring additional part-time staff to work the night shift, complementing staff hired immediately after the incident. The department is in the process of hiring two full-time youth development aides to provide additional night shift support.
 -- Purchasing hand-held radios for the residential units, to give radio as well as telephone contact between security officers and staff.
 -- Planning security lighting and the construction of a roadway inside the fence to improve security patrols.
 The Loysville center houses up to 78 juvenile offenders aged 12 to 18. Youths are sentenced to the facility by juvenile court judges for terms up to nine months. Residents live in dormitory-style housing and receive professional counseling and education services.
 The facility also includes a 20-bed secure care unit for juveniles with a history of more extensive delinquent behavior. That unit has been fenced since its creation in 1987 and is guarded by sophisticated, modern security devices.
 -0- 8/27/93
 /CONTACT: Kevin Campbell or Mary Ellen Fritz of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, 717-787-4592/


CO: Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:

JM -- PH027 -- 6737 08/27/93 16:12 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 27, 1993
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