Sen. Brooks Emphasizes Importance of Local Input in Senate Hearing on Proposed Prison Closures

HARRISBURG (Jan. 24, 2017) On Monday, January 23, Senator Michele Brooks and 18 of her Senate colleagues conducted a four-and-a-half hour public hearing on the recent announcement of proposed prison closures.

“I pushed for this Senate hearing because SCI Mercer employees clearly demonstrate that they get the job done in a way that benefits all Pennsylvanians and the Commonwealth’s corrections system as a whole, in terms of public safety, community service, rehabilitation, and its operation as the facility with the lowest annual cost per inmate of the five facilities on the list for possible closure,” said Brooks.

Testifying before the Senate panel were officials from the Department of Corrections, Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, Pennsylvania Prison Society, Pennsylvania’s District Attorneys Association and five panels representing the prisons under consideration for closure.

To join her in support of SCI Mercer, Senator Brooks invited Penn Northwest Executive Director Randy Seitz, Mercer County Commissioner Matt McConnell, Lawrence County Commissioner Dan Vogler and the county House delegation to testify before the Senate panel.

“I would like to thank Randy Seitz for providing a compelling economic impact analysis for Mercer County in the event of SCI Mercer’s closure, County Commissioners McConnell and Vogler for their insight from the counties’ perspective, and the House delegation’s testimony and advocacy,” Brooks said.

During the hearing, Senator Brooks had the opportunity to question officials from the Department focusing on safety, SCI Mercer’s lowest cost per inmate, and parole violators and absconders, in addition to correcting inaccurate information pertaining to SCI Mercer.  Not included in the Department’s analysis were facility upgrades, including new roofing, road paving, removal and replacement of underground storage tanks, newly installed LED lighting with an approximate annual savings of $11,000, as well as substantial savings from sewage treatment improvements.

In addition to questioning other panel testifiers, Senator Brooks has also extended a personal invitation to Governor Wolf to tour SCI Mercer and the surrounding communities.

 

Contact: Diane McNaughton                 (717) 787-6725