SCRANTON, January 6, 2017 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today released the following statement regarding the announcement by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections of the potential closure of two state prisons – including SCI Waymart.
“Today I was informed of the PA Department of Correction’s decision to close two state prisons by June 2017. I am happy to work with the administration to achieve cost savings in our corrections system, if indeed this is the motivation of this decision, but not at the expense of public safety.”
“SCI Waymart houses over 1,400 dangerous criminals; a third of whom are in the facility’s specialized mental health and forensic inmate population. This specialized capacity is unique to this state correctional facility. SCI Waymart is at 90% capacity and most other facilities are at or over capacity, which begs the question of how other facilities can absorb the influx of so many inmates.”
“Further, SCI Waymart employs nearly 700 of the finest corrections workers in the state, many of them constituents of mine. I am cognizant of the state’s budgetary challenges and the need to reduce prison populations. However, I am not convinced that such precipitous action by the Department of Corrections is the solution to our immediate fiscal distress. This is a matter of public safety and I will be voicing strong opposition to the closure and I will continue working with the administration to protect the specialized operations and family-sustaining jobs at SCI Waymart.”
In July 2016, Senator Blake voted for Senate Bill 1229 which would have required a public hearing prior to any closure of a state prison facility. The bill passed the Senate by a 41-7 vote but the House failed to send the bipartisan legislation to the Governor.
According to the Department of Corrections, the final decision on which two state prisons will be marked for closure will be announced on January 26.
# # #