8 months after prison break, Chester County officials appoint Howard Holland as new warden

Since the escape and manhunt of convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante, Howard Holland has been tasked with improving prison safety and community connections.

Howard Holland

Chester County Prison Warden Howard Holland. (courtesy of Chester County)

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The Chester County Prison Board of Inspectors on Monday unanimously appointed Howard Holland as Chester County Prison warden.

“Together with the prison leadership, and with oversight by the Prison Board, we will continue our focus on safety and security improvements,” Holland said in a press release.

For the past eight months, Holland has served as acting warden. His tenure began with the escape of convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante, which prompted a two-week manhunt.

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His predecessor resigned In August 2023 — one day before Cavalcante’s escape — leaving Holland in charge of a small town prison under a national microscope. Since then, Holland has overseen infrastructural, security and staffing improvements at the prison.

Prior to his appointment as acting warden, the Neumann University alumnus served as special advisor to the Chester County Prison Board.

A graduate of the Delaware County Police Academy and the FBI National Academy, Holland brings with him nearly three decades of experience with the Downingtown Borough Police Department, where he eventually became the police chief.

“Howard’s ‘hands on’ experience in overseeing all correctional and operational functions of the prison, along with 27 years of experience in law enforcement and security, assured all members of the Prison Board that he is the right person to serve as warden,” Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell said in the press release.

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Holland also served a brief stint as a special county detective.

The Chester County Prison is located in Pocopson Township. Cavalcante’s prison break into the surrounding communities created a rift between county residents and jail officials.

“I also look forward to building upon the relationships I have established with prison staff and the local community over the past eight months, as those connections are an important part of the role as warden,” Holland said.

Elaine DiMonte, chair of the Pocopson Township Board of Supervisors, said in the press release that the board is “delighted” with Holland’s appointment.

“We have every confidence in his leadership ability, and we look forward to continuing to build the relationship,” DiMonte said.

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