Overcrowding remains the biggest problem at the Berks County Prison, a top official at the facility insists.Warden George Wagner said when he started at the county jail in the mid 70s, the population was at 165 inmates but that in the early 2000s is when the overcrowding began to become a serious issue.
County funding is mainly spent on staff which is needed to take care of all the inmates, Wagner said.
Out of the 2008 budget $16 million was spent on payroll and benefits for about 300 employees.
Wagner said that the trend of "getting tough on crime" or incarcerating more and more people each year isn't always the answer.
Though he agrees some offenders do need to be incarcerated he believes that sometimes society "goes overboard."
"We're trying to fix problems in society with jails and prisons when these problems can be addressed in other ways," Wagner said, adding that a lot of problems inmates have are from broken families and broken relationships.
Several correctional officers share the challenges of their jobs.
Correctional officer Keith Spatz said getting all of the paperwork correct is a challenge.
Officers must keep track of when inmates have visitors, attend educational programs and other key activities during their stay.
"Also when you first get a block it's rough," Spatz said.
"Then you get to know the inmates and they get to know you." Correctional Officer Michael Vargas added, "The biggest challenge is the unexpected part of it. Every day is something new so you have to be on your toes. If you're lax on things, the inmates can feed on it."