NANTICOKE, Pa. -- “We're trying to save the prison so that my husband can stay working close to home,” Jolene M. said.
Jolene is just one wife of a corrections officer who is worried about the potential closure of SCI Retreat. She was joined by dozens of other wives at Nanticoke Area High School, all clinging to hope that the prison could stay open.
“Closing one more prison is a short-term band-aid for financial problems that we are having in the doc,” Leo Kaslel of the Service Employees International Union Counselors said.
Governor Wolf's office announced its proposal to shut down SCI Retreat in Newport Township as a way to cut budget costs and save money. But members of corrections officers unions ask, at what cost?
“We caution against savings that will put public safety and our corrections officers in jeopardy,” president of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association Larry Blackwell said.
Those protesting the prison's closure add, this will only lead to overcrowding at other facilities, which makes a corrections officer's job more challenging.
Evan Nichol came dressed to support his grandma who has worked at SCI Retreat for more than ten years. His mom Sarah Nichol believes closing the prison would seriously hurt the Luzerne County economy.
“It needs to just stay. There's no need to disperse anything and just keep the money here in the community,” Sarah said.
The Department of Corrections says if SCI Retreat closes, its nearly 11 hundred inmates would be transferred to other state facilities, and all of its 384 employees would be guaranteed a job at another state prison within 65 miles. But Jolene wants her husband to be able to stay close to home.
“To keep everybody where they need to be close to their families and close to home,” Jolene said.