Between now and Friday, Luzerne County is eliminating 65 positions, 18 at the Luzerne County jail.
The layoffs are scheduled to take effect just after Luzerne County’s new manager took office. Robert Lawton comes to Luzerne County from California, with a decade’s worth of experience running medium-sized counties.
“The budget was adopted by council and we are implementing it to the extent we can ameliorate the layoffs with changes and how we can provide services but for the time being,” said Lawton.
The layoffs at the jail include several security guards. They will be gone by Friday.
The jail employees’ union representative called those cuts dangerous and said it could affect the safety of the employees and the public, b added he is confident Luzerne County’s new manager will address his concerns.
It was back in 2004 when accused murderer Hugo Selenski escaped from the Luzerne County jail and scaled down the walls using bed sheets.
Mike Richards owns a pet grooming business just blocks from the jail and remembers that day but said the cuts don’t worry him.
“Not really. I mean, hopefully the days of Hugo Selenksi are over and they keep a good count on bed sheets, but not really no,” said Richards.
Newswatch 16 contacted the warden but he would not say exactly how the prison will operate once the cuts go into effect.
Former interim county manager Tom Pribula said during budget talks the warden told him the prison will operate just fine despite losing 18 employees.
“He did not express any concerns there would be any additional risk to the public or risk to the inmates of the prison,” said Pribula.
County manager Robert Lawton also said there is no guarantee business will run as usual in the other departments once those cuts go into effect. It is something they will be keeping a close eye on in the weeks to come.