NANTICOKE, January 9, 2016 — State Senator John Yudichak and State Representative Gerald Mullery reiterated their opposition to the potential closure of the State Correctional Institute at Retreat. On a conference call Monday morning with the Department of Corrections, both lawmakers declared that closing SCI-Retreat will unfairly harm 400 prison employees, create excessive hardships for Newport Township, exacerbate already high unemployment in Luzerne County and yield minimal if any savings to state taxpayers when compared with other cost-saving measures.
“If you are going to rip $57 million and 400 jobs out of Luzerne County, our workers and taxpayers at least deserve a public hearing to make their case that SCI- Retreat should remain open,” said Senator Yudichak.
Senator Yudichak and Representative Mullery have joined with a bi-partisan coalition of regional lawmakers and the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officer Association (PSCOA), requesting the Department of Corrections to suspend any final decision on prison closures until public hearings are held to accommodate legislative and public input.
Representative Mullery stated that Pennsylvania has closed prisons before in an effort to save money, but the savings never materialized as much as public officials had projected. “In 2013, DOC closed two prisons because they were deemed expendable, but the Commonwealth could not resell the properties quickly and eventually accepted lower sales prices,” he said, “In fact, SCI-Greensburg remained vacant until February 2015, which required $2.5 million in additional upkeep while it sat unused.”
Senator Yudichak and Representative Mullery will meet with SCI-Retreat corrections officers on Monday night at a meeting hosted by PSCOA, and another meeting has been scheduled for legislators to meet with the senior management staff at SCI-Retreat for Wednesday.
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