CAMP HILL, (PRNewswire-USNewswire) — Department of Corrections (DOC) officials today announced that after nearly two years of
being in mothball status, the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Pittsburgh will temporarily be put into operation for the next three to
five years. Corrections is planning to phase the prison into operation by July 1.
“The reopening of SCI-Pittsburgh is a necessity because the department has been facing a steady increase in its inmate receptions over the past few years,” said Corrections Secretary Jeffrey A. Beard, Ph.D. “Reopening Pittsburgh was a logical step in dealing with an increasing inmate
The former SCI-Pittsburgh, known as Western Pen, was closed in January 2005 due to high operating costs and poor lines of site.
Beard said SCI-Pittsburgh will be a new prison with a new mission. The new facility will be a minimum/lower-medium security prison that will
provide drug and alcohol treatment to inmates, particularly those offenders who will one day return home to the western part of the state. The opening of SCI- Pittsburgh will cost the department an additional $33 million.
Initial reopening plans call for the prison’s A and B units to house 750 inmates. If Corrections continues to experience an increase in its
inmate population, plans are being made to open another two housing units to house an additional 750 inmates. The decision to open the additional housing units would be made later this year.
“At this point, our goal is to phase in operation of the prison and to have the first group of inmates living at the prison by July 1,” Beard
The department’s Bureau of Human Resources contacted all labor groups yesterday to inform them of this decision. Corrections officials plan to
use an employee recall system to allow staff with seniority to move back to SCI- Pittsburgh first. This will ensure that experienced individuals will
be present and help in opening and operating the prison. Any vacancies created at other prisons as a result of reopening SCI-Pittsburgh would be filled.
In response to a press release today by Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association President Donald G. McNany, who said Corrections will leave officer positions vacant, Secretary Beard responded that he has every plan to hire and train officers, as well as any other classifications that are needed, and that PSCOA’s concern is unfounded.
“This is something we do on an ongoing basis,” Beard said. “In fact, today we have 8,673 corrections officers and only 209 vacancies. That’s a
vacancy rate of 2.4 percent, which is exceptional. A good vacancy rate could be described by some corrections professionals as six to seven
For more information about Corrections, visit http://www.cor.state.pa.us.