MAHANOY TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- State Correctional Institution Mahanoy in Schuylkill County is marking 25 years of service.
The facility opened back in 1993. It celebrated the milestone by hosting a ceremony for current and former employees.
"We're excited to be able to show everybody what it is that we do," Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Communications Director Susan McNaughton said. "We have some very proud staff here. They do an excellent job."
To observe the 25th anniversary, the prison employees invited Newswatch 16 inside the prison to take a tour.
"We're also a transparent agency," McNaughton said. "We're open 24/7. Everything that we do is paid for by citizen's taxpayer dollars, and we just want to make sure that you have an opportunity to see behind the fences."
We had the opportunity to take a look around the prison grounds, inside where the inmates are housed, and at the medical facility.
Inmates attend school while there. The prison offers GED programs and other vocational schools, like specialized carpentry and auto technology.
One of the areas the prison focuses on most is mental health treatment.
"This unit specializes in treating severely mentally ill inmates," SCI Mahanoy Unit Manager John Muick said. "Inmates, that in the community, might otherwise be in a hospital setting."
SCI Mahanoy has certain housing units that are meant for inmates who need mental health treatment. They're offered medication and can participate in treatment groups and counseling. Muick has worked at the prison for 17 years and said mental health treatment inside the prison has changed over the years.
"What's really happened since (I started) is we've become more treatment focused," Muick said. "So we've shifted from being assessment-focused to treatment-focused."
"We also work to make inmates better than when they came to us," SCI Mahanoy Superintendent Theresa DelBalso said. "So they can re-enter society and do a better job and stay out of prison."
In addition to celebrating the prison's 25th anniversary, it is also corrections employee week, which is always held the first week of May.