Officials angered by the state’s decision to close SCI Cresson and SCI Greensburg took their case to Harrisburg yesterday. A hearing was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the closures, which are scheduled to happen before the end of June. Department of Corrections Secretary admitted during the hearing that it was “inappropriate” for employees and legislators to hear about the closures through the news and he’s now vowing to work with lawmakers to improve the notification process for the future. But Wetzel says he disagrees with delaying the closure of the prison, as some in Westmoreland and Cambria counties are suggesting.
Officials in both counties say the closure of their prisons will have a major impact on their economies. Wetzel says the closure decision was based on data, including that the vacancy rates at both prisons are among the state’s highest.
The deadline was yesterday for workers at both prisons to notify the Department of Corrections on where they would like to be transferred. Many will be sent to a new state prison in Centre County. Another option is a planned 300-bed unit at SCI Pine Grove here in Indiana County.