Harrisburg, January 23, 2017 – Numerous state lawmakers today joined prison workers today at a Capitol rally to protest the state Department of Corrections’ plan to close two prisons by July 1.
The department is expected to announce which prisons it plans on closing this Thursday. Numerous speakers at the rally urged the governor to delay the decision to allow more time to thoroughly study the ramifications of the decision.
SCI-Retreat is one of the five prisons under consideration for closure. Today’s rally, which followed this morning’s joint legislative hearing on the issue, was organized by Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), Rep. Gerald Mullery (D-Luzerne) and the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA).
“No one denies that Pennsylvania faces difficult financial choices in the coming months, but we cannot balance our budget at the expense of security within our correctional institutions and our communities,” said Sen. John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon). “Budget decisions should be made through the public budget process, and the safety of corrections officers, who walk the toughest blocks in Pennsylvania, should not be undermined by closing prisons without an appropriate, full vetting of the consequences.”
Mark Truszkowski, who serves as PSCOA Business Agent for SCI Retreat and Waymart, said corrections officials have revealed “little rhyme or reason” for its closure decision. He said closing the prisons could compromise the safety and security of both prisoners and guards.
PSCOA President Jason Bloom added, “This decision would compromise safety just to save a dollar. I call on Governor Wolf to delay the decision and take a more transparent, thorough and vetted look at this.”
Sen David Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill) added, “Thousands of people are at stake. Corrections officials need to take more time and do this right. There needs to be far more input and deliberation.”
Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) called the Administration’s decision a “rush to judgment” that lacks community consultation and buy-in.
Other lawmakers attending the rally included Senator Michele Brooks (R-Mercer), and Representatives Gerald Mullery (D-Luzerne), Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill), Tina Davis (D-Bucks), Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Carbon), Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill), Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne), Cris Dush (R-Jefferson), Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne), Jonathan Fritz (R-Susquehanna), and Joseph Petrarca (R-Westmoreland).
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