Waxman calls to make unit at state correctional institution a permanent fixture statewide

HARRISBURG, April 12 – State Rep. Ben Waxman, D-Phila., is calling for the “Scandinavian Unit” at SCI Chester to be used permanently at correctional institutions across Pennsylvania.

The Scandinavian Unit is modeled after prisons in Scandinavia, where the core values are safety, transparency, and innovation, with a focus on normality and reintegration into the community upon release. 

“It's time for a shift in how we handle corrections in PA. The Scandinavian Unit at SCI Chester isn't just a program, it's a new horizon in rehabilitation and human rights,” Waxman said. “This model focuses on transformative care, not just incarceration. In the next state budget, I will strongly advocate for us to include funding that would make the Scandinavian Unit a permanent fixture in our state’s corrections system.”

This unit is the result of a multiyear partnership with the Norwegian Correctional Service, the Swedish Prison and Probation Service, and the Danish Prison and Probation Service. In 2019, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections employees traveled to Norway, Sweden and Denmark to see for themselves how Scandinavian countries approach incarceration

The unit provides a quiet environment where residents live in single-person cells with a shared kitchen surrounded by outdoor green space and plants.

Waxman has written a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections calling for funding that would make this unit a permanent fixture within Pennsylvania’s correctional system.

During this year’s state budget hearings, Waxman asked members of the Department of Corrections how this model can be expanded across Pennsylvania.