Northeast state legislators send governor letter for prison public hearings

State Rep. Gerry Mullery, D-Newport Township, said members of the House of Representatives Northeast Delegation are showing solidarity by sending a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf expressing dismay at the recent state Department of Corrections announcement of impending closure of two state correctional facilities in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The pending closure date is Jan. 26.

Mullery said members want to delay any decision about the closings until public hearings are held so that those affected can offer testimony.

“Our region has been disproportionately impacted by the decision, with three of the potential five facilities within our boundaries.” Mullery said. “We need to hold public hearings so our constituents can be heard before any decisions are made.”

The Luzerne County legislator said with less than six months of notice, staff and their families may be forced to relocate from the areas around SCI Frackville, SCI Retreat, and SCI Waymart as they seek employment at other correctional institutions or in other fields.

“Besides the pending loss of jobs in our area, the economic impact is estimated to be more than $57 million and $1 million in annual tax revenue to local school districts,” Mullery said. “We need to look at all the facts and figures before the Governor makes his decision.”

The SCI-Retreat, which is located in Mullery's legislative district, houses 1,103 inmates. It employs 400 people, 79 percent of whom are Luzerne County residents.