Mullery concerned with Corrections secretary’s testimony regarding potential closure of SCI-Retreat (with VIDEO)


HARRISBURG, Jan. 23 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, offered the following statement after a public hearing and rally that were held today at the state Capitol regarding the potential prison closings being proposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

“Corrections Secretary John Wetzel’s testimony caused me great concern,” Mullery said.

Mullery said closure of SCI-Retreat has a real impact: the loss of 400 jobs, annual economic loss of $57.3 million, $1.6 million funding cut to Greater Nanticoke Area School District, $400,000 cut to Newport Township, and $250,000 cut to Luzerne County. Luzerne County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the commonwealth, a poverty rate higher than the state average, a housing vacancy rate higher than the state average, and more households receiving food stamps and eligible for Medical Assistance than the state average.

“These are real numbers and we must demand real numbers from the Department of Corrections and the Wolf administration. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive those numbers at today’s hearing,” Mullery said. “Secretary Wetzel said, ‘Whatever our numbers are, our numbers are.’ His response and the failure of the DOC and administration to provide consistent data highlights the need to delay this decision and properly vet this issue.”

Wetzel admitted the discussion to close two state correctional institutions only began in late December.

“One month is not enough time to properly acquire and analyze the information needed to conduct a thorough examination and make the appropriate decision,” Mullery said.

Mullery was dismayed when Wetzel compared the seating capacity of the Senate Hearing Room to the operational and emergency capacity of the SCIs.

“This was extremely disconcerting and leads us to question whether staff and inmate safety was ever considered in this process,” Mullery said.

“I stand committed with our correctional officers and SCI employees, united for the common cause of what is in the best interest of my constituents.”