Barletta Statement on Gov. Wolf’s Decision to Keep NEPA Prisons Open
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today issued the following statement regarding Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s decision to keep state correctional institutions (SCI) in Northeast Pennsylvania open, while closing one in Pittsburgh. Wolf had been reportedly considering closing two prisons from a list of five, including SCI-Retreat, SCI-Frackville, and SCI-Waymart. Wolf has announced that only SCI-Pittsburgh will be closed.
Barletta had written a letter to Gov. Wolf on January 19, 2017 requesting that he consider a variety of factors and delay making his decision until he had gathered more information. In addition, Rep. Barletta met with John Wetzel, the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, on January 10, 2017 to discuss the issue. Barletta and his staff, both in his Washington, DC office and in his 11th District offices, have been heavily engaged with state lawmakers, local officials, and correctional officers’ groups in monitoring the process and offering input.
Barletta’s statement is as follows:
“This is a victory for the people of our region, most importantly, the employees and their families at the three facilities in our area. The fact that these prisons will remain open will preserve hundreds of jobs and prevent a blow to our local economy. Additionally, it will also alleviate concerns about officer safety, the burden on local courts, and the welfare of the inmates themselves. I thank Gov. Wolf for listening to our point of view.
“My concerns about the rapid decision process remain. Closing a state correctional facility is a determination that should never be made based on fiscal concerns alone, rather, it should come after an examination of the impact on the local area and the safety of the public, correctional officers, and inmates. It is my understanding that the facility in Pittsburgh is situated in such a way that it is a valuable property, and so its closure and conversion into another use may, in fact, be beneficial to the surrounding area. That was clearly a different situation than we faced in Northeast Pennsylvania.”
“The reaction to the possible closure of our facilities was swift and I am proud of our local officials and prison employee advocates. I thank state Sen. John Yudichak, state Rep. Gerald Mullery, Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis, Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, Luzerne County Manager David Pedri, and Don Williams, president of Voices of J.O.E., a political advocacy group dedicated to giving a voice to corrections workers and their families.”