Our LAKV Law and Justice Session on Thursday February 11th was held at the historical Armstrong County Courthouse built in 1858-1860. Armstrong County was formed out of parts of Allegheny, Westmoreland and Lycoming Counties in March 1800.
The Honorable James Panchik kicked off the session with the history of 10 judges that were elected over 142 year time span. The current judges include himself, The Honorable Kenneth G. Valasek, President Judge and the Honorable Joseph A. Nickleach, Sr. Judge.
Next, Lieutenant Thomas E. Dubovi, Crime Section Commander of the Pennsylvania State Police, discussed the role of the State Police in our community. He also talked about the ever revolving challenges and those tools to meet them.
Chief Probation Officer Regina Himes talked about the differences between probation and parole. Also, how their role in the justice system swings from law enforcement to social work with the goal of reducing recidivism. 50-60% of the Countyâ€™s budget goes to prison costs.
After lunch, Marcy Uncapher from the Armstrong County Commissionerâ€™s Office gave us a tour of the old Armstrong County Jail which was constructed between 1870-1873. Today, the jail is used as the records center and houses the Countyâ€™s records and Information Technology Offices.
Finally, our day ended with a tour of the current Armstrong County Prison built in 2003. The seasoned guard that gave us the tour of the facility provided great detail on what he deals with on a daily basis including many of the dangers he must face.
Overall, the day was a great overview of the different cogs and extraordinary efforts needed to keep our communities safe places to live.
~ Colleen Felentzer