Officials have announced that Frackville State Correctional Institution will remain open. Earlier this month, the facility was one of five institutions being considered for closure by the state.
“My heart goes out to the community that lost a facility, but we are very happy to learn SCI Frackville will not be closing and these 400 jobs will stay in Schuylkill County,” said PA Representative Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill). “We want to thank Governor Wolf and Secretary Wetzel for listening to us. We said from the beginning we will argue the facts on behalf of Frackville, and the facts prevailed.”
“Only SCI Pittsburg is closing,” said John Hopcraft of Senator Dave Argall’s office.
Below is a related press release from Senator Dave Argall’s office:
Schuylkill County area lawmakers Representatives Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill), Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Carbon/Schuylkill), Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill/Dauphin) and Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) thanked Gov. Tom Wolf and Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel for their decision to keep SCI Frackville open and for listening to their case to keep the facility running.
“My heart goes out to the community that lost a facility, but we are very happy to learn SCI Frackville will not be closing and these 400 jobs will stay in Schuylkill County,” said Goodman. “We want to thank Governor Wolf and Secretary Wetzel for listening to us. We said from the beginning we will argue the facts on behalf of Frackville, and the facts prevailed.”
“We agree with the Department of Corrections – the facts prove that SCI Frackville is an efficient institution,” Argall said. “We believe this facility should be expanded; not eliminated. We will be very proactive on this front. In the next two weeks we will convene a series of meetings in Schuylkill County and at the Capitol with one goal in mind: further improving SCI Frackville and SCI Mahanoy so that in the future, neither local prison is on any list to be closed. What improvements can be added, what cost-savings make sense to strengthen these two institutions? These are just some of the many questions on which we will focus.”
“This is the perfect example of working together to create a good result,” Knowles said. “I am thankful for the bipartisan, fact-based team approach that was demonstrated throughout this process to fight to keep this important facility’s doors open. Thank you to my state and local colleagues who came together to do all we could to make this a positive result for our area.”
“SCI Frackville is a highly performing facility and an asset to our community,” Tobash said. “This decision represents fiscal responsibility, as well as good news for our region.”
Since the Administration announced January 6 it will close prisons, the county’s lawmakers have argued SCI Frackville is the most efficient and newest of the five facilities under review and in excellent physical condition. It also has the lowest overtime costs and annual expenditures, is strategically located off Interstate 81, shares services with nearby SCI Mahanoy, and is able to accommodate all levels of prisoners.
Representatives Kurt Masser (R-Columbia/Montour/Northumberland), Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon), and Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne), as well as Congressman Matt Cartwright, the Schuylkill County Commissioners, Ryan Township supervisors, and the Schuylkill Economic Development Corporation were all instrumental in making the case to keep SCI Frackville open. Credit also goes to Schuylkill County Municipal Authority, Frackville Area Municipal Authority, Wheelabrator Frackville, the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, and SCI Frackville Superintendent Kathy Brittain.
“The decision to keep SCI Frackville open is a good one,” Masser said. “Ensuring public safety is one of government’s most core and essential services, and this facility and its employees have done nothing but exemplary work.”
The four legislators added that credit goes to the 5,600 individuals who signed the petition to Gov. Wolf and Sec. Wetzel urging them to keep open SCI Frackville.
Below is a statement from Governor Tom Wolf regarding Corrections’ Facility Closure Announcement:
Governor Tom Wolf released the following statement on his administration’s announcement that the Department of Corrections will begin the process to close SCI Pittsburgh by June 30, 2017:
“The growing size and cost of our prisons system has gone unaddressed for too long – rising to more than $2 billion and threatening funding for programs that the people of Pennsylvania want: education, senior care and jobs and training programs.
“I commend Secretary Wetzel and the Department of Corrections for their transparent, inclusive and comprehensive process to determine how to reduce its footprint while maintaining safety for the public, its employees and those it seeks to rehabilitate.
“Prison population is declining and that is a good thing because it means criminal justice reforms are working. We must continue to pursue smart reforms that reduces the burden on taxpayers and protect our investments in education and drug treatment to keep people out of prison where we will spend $40,000 each to house, feed and care them.
“I want to thank all Pennsylvanians who provided input during our deliberation. This decision will allow us to save taxpayers approximately $80 million while minimizing the impact on staff and local communities. My administration will work diligently with Senator Fontana, Representative Wheatley and local leaders in Allegheny County to implement a plan to find a new use for the SCI Pittsburgh location.”
Click HERE to view the prior story about the potential closure.