Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Pennsylvania plans to close two prisons in already overcrowded system

Two Pennsylvania state prisons are shutting their doors in the near future. The system is already nearly four percent above ideal operating capacity, reported WITF in Harrisburg.
Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said it's approaching what's known as "emergency capacity," which is the absolute maximum number of prisoners a facility can house.
Wetzel said the two closures would push the state system from 87 percent of emergency capacity, to 92 percent.
"I'd prefer to keep it at about 90 percent of emergency capacity," he said. "But we're not in ideal times. If you look at the financial realities, our choices were to reduce staffing and programming, or do this."
The move is part of an overarching state effort to slash costs to deal with rising budget shortfalls and a multi-billion dollar structural deficit.
Five prisons are potentially on the chopping block-- Frackville in Schuylkill County, Mercer in Mercer County, Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, Retreat in Luzerne County, and Waymart in Wayne County.
The two prisons selected to close will be announced on January 26.
Potential savings aren't finalized, but Wetzel estimated shuttering the facilities will add 40 to 45 million dollars to the state's pocketbook.
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