State not charging Northumberland County daily fee for Miranda Barbour
SUNBURY - Northumberland County is not being charged a daily fee to house accused murderer Miranda Barbour at a state prison for women at Muncy.
The Department of Corrections (DOC) informed county officials that no daily housing fees will be charged while she is incarcerated by the state, said Commissioner Rick Shoch, who, as vice chairman, is currently the highest ranking member of the county prison board.
Barbour's move out of the county jail allowed her husband, Elytte, to be brought back to the Sunbury lockup, and that, in turn, will actually save Northumberland County $100 a day, Shoch said Friday. Columbia County Prison in Bloomsburg was charging $100 daily to house Elytte Barbour.
District Attorney Tony Rosini has requested that the couple remain in separate facilities.
Northumberland County Commissioner Chairman Vinny Clausi expressed concern earlier this week that housing Miranda Barbour, 19, of Selinsgrove, at SCI-Muncy would cost the county $65 per day.
He raised those concerns while objecting to her transfer from the county prison, where she's been held since Dec. 3 on homicide and other charges related to the Nov. 11 stabbing death of Troy LaFerrara, 42, of Port Trevorton.
County Chief Public Defender Edward Greco, Miranda Barbour's attorney, who wasn't aware of the transfer before it occurred, also objected, but has since agreed to allow her to remain in Muncy, assuming he is allowed to meet with her at the county prison before any court proceedings.
Clausi also raised concerns about the county paying for Barbour's medical care while she's housed at Muncy, and that issue remains to a certain extent.
A Feb. 21 letter from DOC transfer manager Tanya S. Brandt to Northumberland County Prison Deputy Warden Brian Wheary indicated the county would be "subject to extraordinary costs related to medical treatment, psychiatric treatment, transportation and overtime costs related to the care, custody and control of the inmate, and that the county will received an itemized statement of charges."
"If payment is not received within 45 days," Brandt wrote in what appears to be a form letter, "the department will return the inmate to the county prison and will not accept additional transfers until the payment is received."
In an email to Johnson Wednesday, Joanne Torma, superintendent of the director of population management for the DOC, clarified.
"You will note that the only cost would be for extraordinary medical and/or psychiatric costs. There is no daily cost for housing an inmate under these circumstances," she wrote.
As to the "extraordinary" costs, Shoch said Friday he spoke to Frank Komykoski at PrimeCare, the contracted medical service provider at the county prison, who said any such bills should be submitted to PrimeCare and they will be covered to the same extent they would be covered if Miranda Barbour had remained at the county jail.
However, upon learning that Barbour is classified as a 5-B transfer - a mechanism that counties use to temporarily transfer an offender from the county prison to the Department of Corrections based on special circumstances - any extraordinary medical expenses would not be handled in the same way as if she were in the county facility, Shoch later clarified. He said neither he nor Komykoski were aware the transfer had this classification at the time of their prior conversation.
"Specifically, if she were in our facility, PrimeCare would cover the first $2,500 of extraordinary medical expense, but they don't if she is out of the facility on a 5-B transfer," Shoch said via email later Friday.
However, given what would constitute extraordinary medical expenses, they would not typically come in to play for someone of Miranda Barbour's age, Shoch added, and even if they did, the $2,500 of coverage would typically be a "very small percentage of the overall cost for that type of care."
Shoch noted non-5-B transfers would typically come with a per diem charge, such as the one the county was paying previously for Elytte Barbour.
Shoch gave credit to Warden Roy Johnson and Wheary for their efforts resolving the matter.
At Tuesday morning's prison board meeting. Johnson said the international attention about Miranda Barbour's claim in a jailhouse interview with a Daily Item reporter that she killed more than 22 people, in addition to LaFerrara, disrupted security and efficiency at the prison.
That prompted her transfer Feb. 21. Five days after her transfer, her husband, also charged with homicide in LaFerrara's death, was moved back to the Northumberland County Prison. He had been at the Bloomsburg jail since Dec. 6. The approximately 82 days he had spent there would total $8,200 owed by Northumberland County.
Miranda and Elytte Barbour, 22, had moved to Selinsgrove from North Carolina a few weeks before they allegedly killed LaFerrara.