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01/31/2020

SCI Forest Dedicates New Correctional Industries Plant

Marienville, PA – State and local officials today participated in a formal dedication of a new Pennsylvania Correctional Industries (PCI) Vehicle Restoration Plant at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Forest.

At the event, attended by more than 40 guests, officials spoke about the new Correctional Industry that is expected to become operational in early 2020 to train inmates for a career upon reentry in their communities.

"Our mission is to reduce criminal behavior by providing individualized treatment and education to inmates, resulting in successful community reintegration through accountability and positive change," SCI Forest Superintendent Derek Oberlander said. "This industry is going to provide meaningful employment opportunities for inmates housed at our facility, provide them with a marketable skill set when they leave and provide a needed service for other government entities."

Construction began in January 2019 and lasted just over one year and involved approximately 270 contractors at a cost of $10 million. Funded by Pennsylvania Correctional Industries, which is a self-sustaining operation through the sale of items to non-profit entities, the 48,672-square-foot plant will employ eight full time staff members and approximately 100 inmates. The plant will house a 2,232-square-foot drive-through sand blast booth, a paint and dry booth, a wheel refinishing system, welding and grinding equipment, and a fabrication area to service large vehicles. 

Additional speakers at today's even included DOC Deputy Secretary Christopher Oppman, Regional Deputy Secretary Trevor Wingard, SCI Forest Retired Superintendent Michael Overmyer and Correctional Industries Director Khelleh Konteh. 

"This project is one of the most important ventures we have engaged in since I came on board three years ago," PCI Director Konteh said. "Upon our visit to SCI Forest, the superintendent took us to an empty building and asked if there is anything we could do with it since it has been there for so long. As soon as we saw it, we knew that it would offer a great opportunity to refurbish snowplows."

Konteh also said he expects this new plant to provide meaningful jobs, training and experience for inmates in the foreseeable future, with a goal of reducing recidivism.

Inmates employed in the area will learn vocational skills which they will use to repair and maintain snowplows, tire rims, message boards and other heavy equipment vehicles for state and county governments. Additionally, a vocational welding program recently commenced at the facility to prepare inmates for employment in the plant. Upon completion of this 14- to 16-month program, the 30 class participants will receive the following certifications from the National Center for Construction Education and Research: NCCER Core, NCCER Welding Level 1, and NCCER Welding Level 2.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lisa Reeher, 814-621-2110

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