EBENSBURG, Pa. – Cambria County Prison is housing more high-level drug dealers apprehended by the federal U.S. Marshals Service, Warden Christian Smith said Wednesday.

In recent years, the prison housed an average of 30 inmates for the U.S. Marshals at any time. Now, the count is up to 116, he said.

The influx has generated revenue for the prison to offset financial losses from opting out of a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as the cancellation of a contract with the Pennsylvania Parole Board.

The U.S. Marshals Service is paying the prison $70 per prisoner per day. For September, the U.S. Marshals Service paid $155,610 to Cambria County Prison. For the year to date, it has paid $1.2 million to the prison, Smith said.

“We anticipate another group of 10 to 20 to be arriving within the next few weeks, mainly females,” Smith said during the Cambria County Prison Board’s monthly meeting.

He said the U.S. Marshals have apparently had some major drug busts, which led to the increased need for housing.

On Sept. 23, Cambria County Prison received 19 U.S. Marshals inmates from Allegheny County. On Oct. 7, the prison received an additional 20.

“Marshals are a tougher lot – high-level drug dealers,” Smith said. “It’s a difficult crowd.”

While the prison has seen a spike in revenue from housing inmates for the U.S. Marshals Service, it has gained no revenue this month for housing immigration detainees sent by ICE. And the Pennsylvania Parole Board has canceled its contract to house inmates at local prisons altogether, Smith said.

“Our contract to house inmates for ICE got to the point over the summer where numbers were so low – we were averaging one or two per day – so we opted out,” Smith said.

Russ O'Reilly is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @RussellOReilly.

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