NANTICOKE, January 26, 2017—The Department of Corrections issued a brief press statement today announcing that SCI-Retreat in Newport Township will remain open and the prison’s nearly four hundred jobs will be spared.
In early January, the Department of Corrections (“DOC”) announced that they would close two prisons from a short-list of five, which were selected by an internal committee without public comment or notice to state lawmakers. Today, DOC Secretary John Wetzel announced SCI-Pittsburgh, effective June 30th, will be closed.
State Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) praised the bipartisan effort of Luzerne County officials to successfully keep SCI-Retreat open and its 400 prison workers employed. Senator Yudichak said that SCI-Retreat would have been closed without the tireless advocacy of State Senator Lisa Baker and Representatives Gerald Mullery (D-Newport Township), Tarah Toohil, Aaron Kaufer, and Eddie Day Pashinski.
Senator Yudichak also highlighted testimony from Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri, District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis, Newport Township managers, and local members of Pennsylvania Correctional Officers Association (“PSCOA”), led by Business Agent Mark Truszkowski, during a joint-committee hearing this week as instrumental to the DOC’s decision.
“I am proud that the people of Luzerne County have demonstrated once again that we stand strong and united to protect jobs and protect our community,” said Senator Yudichak. “I am convinced now, more than ever, that Pennsylvania must reform its protocol for closing prison facilities. However, I must thank the Wolf Administration and the Department of Corrections for listening to our case and ultimately, making the right call that SCI-Retreat should remain open.”
“I too was inspired by how our community rose to the occasion and I am pleased the Wolf administration heeded our calls to save SCI-Retreat,” said State Representative Gerald Mullery. “Going forward, we need to work with the Department of Corrections to continue criminal justice reinvestment and implement other administrative reforms that will vastly improve the quality of our corrections system and curtail costs so that prison closures are unnecessary until occupational capacity has been reduced to optimum levels.”
Paul Czapracki, Chairman of the Newport Township Supervisors and an employee at SCI-Retreat, thanked the Northeastern Pennsylvania delegation for standing united and opposing an ill-advised closure of SCI-Retreat. “From the day that the short-list was announced, our legislators spoke up, stood strong, and protected 400 families from an uncertain future.”