Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday he will officially close SCI Retreat, as a proposal to do so was introduced in August, but people may wonder if any inmates will be transferred to SCI Smithfield or SCI Huntingdon.
The reason for the closure is cost-savings related. Reports from the Wolf administration show that closing SCI Retreat would save at least $40 million per year.
It’s now yet clear exactly how the closure will impact local facilities.
“Since the final decision to close the prison was just announced, our planning now begins,” said Susan McNaughton, communications director for the state Department of Corrections. “A number of factors goes into determining the best placements for inmates.”
There are currently 940 inmates and 400 employees at SCI Retreat. Employees who work at the prison, which is located 10 miles from Wilkes-Barree, will be offered jobs at prisons within a 65-mile radius of SCI Retreat.
McNaughton discussed some of the factors that go into determining the best placements for inmates.
“A number of factors go into determining the best placements for inmates,” she said. “They include security, treatment programs, health care, mental health, educational/vocational programs and much more. We have a sophisticated computer system that is reviewed by experts that helps those experts make the best decision for each inmate.”
Another reason they can’t speculate as to how the prison population will grow due to inmate transfers from SCI Retreat is because of security issues.
“At this point, we can’t even speculate, and we certainly don’t provide such information in advance of transportations due to security concerns,” said McNaughton.
The official closing of SCI Retreat could take place as soon as four months from now, according to reports.
According to reports, the original buildings at SCI Retreat date back to the 19th century and it has the fewest beds of any of the state’s 25 prisons, and the state Department of Corrections lists its bed capacity at 97% as of Dec. 31, although it also lists 10 state prisons as having more inmates than their operational bed capacities.
The Wolf administration noted state prisons cost $2 billion to operate, a cost that rises almost every year in a $34 billion state government operating budget.