A Look Inside SCI Waymart

CANAAN TOWNSHIP -- A state prison in Wayne County opened its doors to reporters on Monday.

The State Correctional Institute at Waymart was on the list of prisons that might have closed this year for budget reasons but was spared, and prison officials are convinced it's vital to the state Department of Corrections because of the mental health facilities inside.

From the moment you step inside SCI Waymart, it's clear this facility has been around for a long time. Built in 1912 as a hospital for the criminally insane, this is now SCI Waymart with nearly 1,500 inmates, many who will be returning to their communities once their sentences are served.

"Now it's our goal every day to get people living well in the community and not coming back to jail," said Superintendent Jack Sommers.

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Sommers led reporters around the prison, past recreational yards, the library, and into classes that help inmates learn how to help other inmates who suffer from mental health issues.

"We'll bring them up here for a certain period of time. We'll get them med-compliant, whether it be group therapy, then see if we can get them in right frame of mind," explained Ronda Ellett.

This facility was one of several state prisons on a list for possible closure the beginning of this year. Governor Tom Wolf was looking for ways to save the state money.

But it's the special focus Waymart has on mental health that officials believe saved it.

"The mental health specialties we have the forensic treatment center, intermediate care units, personal care unit, special assessment unit, played a major factor in keeping us open," said Sommers.

Some inmates suffer from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychotic episodes, and more, and are treated in different sections of the prison. A forensic mental health unit has 90 beds. The intermediate unit has 140 and officials expressed concern about what would happen if the state ever considered closing Waymart in the future

"Where would those inmates go? Where would they get this type of specialized treatment and continuity of care?" asked Paul Delrosso, SCI Waymart.

Officials at SCI Waymart say there are other prisons in the state that offer mental health treatment but nothing like what is offered there as far as the openness of the facility and the ability to treat so many inmates at once.

9 comments

  • Huggy

    The Frackville Mall housed more criminals than any prison in the state. The amount of sex crimes that mall endured…just incredible

  • Easy Solution

    If it closes, anyone with violent or sex based crimes get taken out back and executed. Should of just happened in the first plane and saved time and money

  • RJELQ

    This would be a good place to just house the Penn state university related criminals. There is clearly enough of them. Between the pedophiles, frat boy thug wannabes and corrupt administration. You could probably fill the place.

    • coal crackers

      Frackville welcomes them with open arms. They’re helping the street roamers build a more prosperous and productive community back there in the Vo-tech woods.

      • coalregionpride

        The twin beauty’s of Ashland and Girardville would welcome them as well. They need Neighboring Shenandoah and Hazleton seem like they became sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants since the early 1990s and it got worse ever since. Shamokin, Tamaqua and Mahanoy City just got thugs from Northern Jersey buy up row homes and
        will make the coal region great again!

  • pot smoker

    They failed to disclose that this is the main sex offender Jail , Yes all that talk you just read is about pedophiles and rapists- dangerous / sick people . They are piled here to protect them from others , word is it is such a dump too and of course it needs closed ,

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