SUNBURY - Northumberland County Prison Board members discussed a supplemental policy for hiring, disciplining and firing prison employees Wednesday, but ended up tabling the issue when several questions arose regarding its language.

The board agreed to have assistant county solicitor John Muncer amend the policy to change some minor wording in certain sections.

Last month, prison board members instructed Muncer to develop the policy and granted Warden Roy Johnson authority in the interim to suspend employees with pay or without pay, while maintaining the board's authority to hire and fire employees.

Northumberland County President Judge Robert B. Sacavage said the policy will give the board a written document to follow rather than using a defacto method of hiring, disciplining and firing employees. He said the current policy is a bit vague in identifying exactly who is responsible for taking formal action against employees who violate prison regulations or the law.

County District Attorney Tony Rosini said a more detailed procedure needs to be implemented involving disciplinary action taken against non-union employees. He said proper protocol needs to be established to prevent more lawsuits from being filed against the county by prison employees.

Johnson reported the prison population is currently 249, including 190 males and 59 females. He said last month's highest population was 274 on Nov. 5, while its lowest was 251 on Nov. 28.

"The population exploded in late October and early November, but has leveled off since then," Johnson said.