Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Executive Deputy Secretary for Institutional Operations Tabb Bickell announces that plans are moving forward to close the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Retreat by June 27, 2020.
On Jan. 17, Gov. Tom Wolf agreed with the DOC's recommendation to close SCI Retreat and that employees would be relocated to a DOC facility within a 65-mile radius of SCI Retreat. The relocation process has been completed, with some employees choosing different positions within the department or commonwealth, and some retiring.
Under Act 133, the prison would not have been able to close earlier than May 17, 2020. DOC officials said the agency will maintain minimal operations at the closed facility in case it is needed in the future to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak.
"I would like to thank SCI Retreat employees for stepping up to the challenge of turning their facility into a reception facility during the COVID-19 pandemic," Bickell said. "They made a huge impact on our work to slow the spread of the virus throughout our system."
Bickell said that under their new mission as a reception facility during COVID-19, prison staff tested 1,166 inmates, with only 13 positive results.
"This COVID-19 testing figure from SCI Retreat shows that a very small number of individuals coming to our system are positive, and I believe that is a good reflection on both the county and state prison systems as well as the overall mitigation efforts and leadership under Gov. Tom Wolf," Sec. John Wetzel said.
In anticipation of SCI Retreat's closure, officials have directed that beginning June 26 SCIs Coal Township (Northumberland County) and Greene (Greene County) will serve as parole violator reception facilities for the eastern and western parts of the state, respectively. The focus will be on moving individuals through the parole process using strong reentry planning. Parole violators needing detox services will be sent to SCI Smithfield (Huntingdon County). Following successful detox, parole violators will then be moved to Coal Township or Greene for programming.
Officials also announced that, beginning June 29, SCI Camp Hill will again be accepting new court commitments from counties. Such new commitments only will be received every other week at Camp Hill, which will allow the prison to place newly received inmates in cohorts to minimize the impact COVID-19 may have on the system moving forward.
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