The proposed closing of SCI Retreat in Luzerne County by the state Department of Corrections (DOC), could have an impact on the populations of SCIs Huntingdon and Smithfield, but the impact would likely be minimal, according to DOC officials.

DOC officials announced Wednesday they have proposed closing the prison due to budget saving measures and the overall decrease in the prison population.

According to a press release from DOC, there was a decrease in the inmate population of nearly 1,900, which is the largest one-year decrease in the history of the DOC.

Additionally, the DOC’s June 2019 inmate population was 46,482, which is nearly 5,300 inmates lower than its highest-ever prison population, which was 51,757 in June 2012.

Susan McNaughton, spokesperson for the DOC, said if SCI Retreat closes, the 1,100 inmates could go anywhere in the state.

“They could co anywhere in the state, so SCIs Huntingdon and Smithfield could have an impact, but it will be very minimal,” she said.

McNaughton also added that while the DOC is proposing to close SCI Retreat, there are things that need to happen before any final decisions are made.

“There’s going to be a hearing Thursday, Oct. 17, in Luzerne County,” she said. “No location or time has been set, but we will be collecting and reviewing information about SCI Retreat, and that will help us make the final decision that we’ll announce later.”

The process of a prison closure is set through legislation (Act 133 of 2018). The DOC is required to announce its intention to close a prison and then undergo a review process of at least three months before making a final determination on the proposed closure.

During this three-month period, DOC officials will gather and review pertinent information about SCI Retreat, including, but not limited to, physical plant age and condition, cost to operate and options for staff.

McNaughton also stressed there are no other proposals on the table to close any other SCI facility in the state.

“But, we have plans in place to reduce costs at all SCIs across the state,” she added.

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