Pirolli

Bucks County Commissioners recognize the retirement of corrections director Chris Pirolli, in front. From left, in back, are Commissioners Robert Harvie, Diane Ellis-Marseglia and Gene DiGirolamo.

DOYLESTOWN >> Director of Corrections Chris Pirolli, who rose from feeding Bucks County’s inmates to overseeing the county’s entire prison system, is retiring.

Pirolli, 58, steps down July 6, ending a county government career spanning 39 years.

It began when he was hired in 1982 as a 20-year-old cook at the old Bucks County Prison in Doylestown Borough. Pirolli is the last county corrections employee to have worked at the gothic, 19th Century structure nicknamed the “Pine Street Hotel.”

He steadily advanced through the ranks, earning promotions to dietary supervisor in 1989, lieutenant in 2003, deputy director of facility operations in 2006, and director of corrections in 2017.

As director, Pirolli is responsible for more than 300 employees and approximately 800 persons housed in the Bucks County Correctional Facility, the Community Corrections Centers or in outside facilities.

Under his leadership, Bucks County’s correctional system continued to modernize and improve its facilities and practices, striving to further shift the focus of incarceration from punishment to rehabilitation.

Working with other county leaders, Pirolli helped bring mental health issues to the forefront in dealing with inmates. Prisoners’ health treatment also was transferred largely from the county’s health department to PrimeCare Medical, a third-party provider.

Other innovations implemented under Pirolli included the Medication Assisted Treatment Program, the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, and the H.O.P.E. and H.E.A.R.T. Recovery Programs for prisoners with substance use issues. The recovery programs received a Criminal Justice Best Practices Award in 2019 from the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Pirolli worked with court officials, the District Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices and others to reduce the county prison population to help protect both public health and public safety.

Pirolli also helped oversee the ongoing expansion of the Women’s Correctional Facility, scheduled to open later this year. The multi-million dollar project is designed to ease overcrowding and end the costly need to house county prisoners in facilities outside of Bucks County.

The county commissioners publicly thanked Pirolli during their June 16 meeting for his decades of service to the county.

“You have the toughest job in county government,” said Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo, chairman of the Bucks County Prison Oversight Board. “Thank you for your leadership and the good work that you’ve done taking care of vulnerable people (during) some of the worst times of their lives.”

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