NANTICOKE, January 10, 2017 — State Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and the entire Northeastern Pennsylvania delegation visited State Correctional Institute at Retreat (“SCI-Retreat”) today and met with the prison’s senior leadership as well as prison employees to discuss the potential closure of the facility before the end of 2017.
In addition to Senator Yudichak and his staff, State Senator Lisa Baker and Representatives Gerald Mullery, Tarah Toohil, Aaron Kaufer, and Mike Carroll also attended. Representatives Karen Boback and Eddie Day Pashinski were represented by legislative staff and Luzerne County Manager David Pedri attended as well.
All lawmakers said that today’s visit was important to show that the entire delegation stands united against prematurely closing prison facilities in northeastern Pennsylvania. The delegation also wanted to convey to Retreat’s staff, employees, and their families that they do not stand alone in this fight and that every resource will be used to avert a premature closure of any prison facilities, especially SCI-Retreat. Lawmakers have repeatedly demanded that Governor Wolf’s administration indefinitely delay its prison closure plan and hold public hearings.
“Pennsylvania cannot uproot working-class families unless they can be assured that the process was open, fair, and based upon sound fiscal policy,” said Senator Yudichak, “Before they decide to close this facility, I would ask all public officials to come to Luzerne County, to come to Retreat, and see firsthand the ramifications of that decision.”
SCI-Retreat houses 1,103 inmates and employs 400 people—79% of whom are Luzerne County residents. If the facility is closed, the economic impact is estimated to exceed $57 million and it could jeopardize more than $1 million in annual tax revenue to local school districts, Newport Township, and Luzerne County. Newport Township itself could be reclassified as a second-class township if the prison closure forces families to relocate to ease the burden of a job transfer within the DOC or another state department.
“We all hope that Pennsylvania can successfully combat the ongoing opioid crisis and curtail violent crime, however, we need to set realistic corrections policy that is supported by the facts and not the most optimistic forecasts by the administration,” said Rep. Gerry Mullery.