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State Lawmakers Tour SCI Retreat Ahead of Possible Prison Closure

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NEWPORT TOWNSHIP -- State lawmakers in our area are stepping up efforts to save a prison they fear may be at the top of the list to close. In just two weeks, the state plans to announce which two prisons will close.

One of the prisons on the list is SCI Retreat, near Hunlock Creek. It's Newport Township's biggest employer, with more than 400 workers. It also provides roughly $1 million in tax revenue to the township and Luzerne County.

On Wednesday, lawmakers toured the prison to learn more about it. They're trying to understand the benefits of keeping SCI Retreat open.

Their visit comes just days after the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections announced that on January 26, it will choose two state prisons to close from a list of five.

"We learned some very important information. 50 percent of the inmates are classified as mental health inmates. That's very important," said Sen. John Yudichak, who wants the corrections department to delay its announcement so there can be more public input.

But the Department of Corrections tells Newswatch 16 the date is final.

"We need to have those public hearings. We need to go through the budget process. We need to move this decision beyond Jan. 26," Sen. Yudichak said.

Of the five prisons being considered for closure, a list from the Department of Corrections shows that SCI Retreat has the most issues.

Retreat has the lowest number of employees and inmates who would be impacted by a closure. The prison has had flooding problems due to its location along the Susquehanna River. And the only road leading to the prison crosses a bridge that needs to be repaired.

Still, many people in the area hope, for the sake of the community, it stays open.

"Newport Township and Luzerne County, they rely on the people that work there, as far as their income and the money they spend and all," said one man.

Since the Department of Corrections will not have public hearings, some senators are planning their own senate hearing in Harrisburg on January 23. That's just three days before the Department of Corrections makes its decision.

They're asking state corrections officials to attend her hearing, as well as community members who could be impacted.

5 comments

  • P

    Those “lawmakers” that visited have ZERO say, they are just being Politicians and this is what Politicians do. “We’ll try everything we could to keep this prison open”..its a line and its what they do for a living.
    SCI Waymart has the real severly crazy ones in a prison designed to hold them, Retreat has more “behavioral” Inmates. Retreat as zero land to expand on if they wanted while Waymart has an entire mountainside. The big difference is you can take the Inmates from Retreat and house them with other status Inmates..the Inmates at Waymart you CAN NOT!!
    Everyone needs to STOP complaining..Closing or not, there are ZERO FURLOUGHS, ZERO TERMINATIONS.
    EVERYONE IS GOING TO KEEP THEIR JOB WITH ZERO DEMOTIONS!!
    So, SHUT UP ALREADY!!
    As far as the Community its in…drive through it, its poor looking with 1 gas station, 1 tiny grocery store and maybe a few corner bars. There is nothing there..its a tiny country bumpkin town and honestly I don’t know why anyone would live there.

  • google helmira

    Good, shut all these money pits down and build tent camps like we used during the civil war. If the inmates freeze to death or starve out, oh well. That would be a good deterrent.

  • Meh

    SCI Retreat is a done deal. All the kicking and screaming in the world isnt going to change it. The CO’s there have been told by their deputy to start thinking about what they are going to do. SCI Mercer will be the second prison.

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