Crime

Prisons to close, inmates will be moved

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Selected inmates at Benner State Prison help to train rescue dogs until they find their forever home.
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Selected inmates at Benner State Prison help to train rescue dogs until they find their forever home.

Two Pennsylvania state prisons will close in 2017.

Local state prisons are not under consideration, though the closings could mean that area prisons will see a rise in inmates.

The state Department of Corrections announced Friday that a pair of prisons will be shut down by June 30, a move that will impact hundreds staff members and thousands of inmates.

The closures are one step toward cutting spending in the face of the state government’s deficit. The governor said there are some services he is not willing to cut.

"I chose to invest in schools - not prisons - because it's both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do," Gov. Tom Wolf said. "The future of Pennsylvania depends on making investments in what works and I'll do everything I can to ensure we're investing in all our kids and their futures."

The shut down of two state prisons has occurred despite the DOC’s claims of cost-saving measures put into effect over the last few years.

"We have implemented a variety of cost savings initiatives over the past several years yet we are again in the position where the [department] must make significant reductions because of the dire budget forecast," DOC Secretary John Wetzel said.

The state prisons under consideration for the closings include SCI Frackville in Schuylkill County, SCI Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, SCI Mercer in Mercer County, SCI Retreat in Luzerne County and SCI Waymart in Wayne County.

All affected employees will be offered a position within the DOC, according to the state.

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