Urges Local Officials and Community Leaders to Step up
Harrisburg – January 23, 2017 – State Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (D-Allegheny) today spoke out at a joint Capitol hearing to save SCI-Pittsburgh from closing. The hearing was jointly held this morning by the Senate’s respective judiciary and policy committees. Lawmakers heard testimony from Corrections Department administrators, county prosecutors and others.
Department of Corrections officials said they will announce on Thursday which two state prisons are slated for closing. Last week Fontana toured the 24-acre North Side facility and met with prison workers and officials. He provided the following statement following today’s hearing:
“While I don’t question the need for our prisons to cut costs, consolidate efforts and improve efficiencies, I am convinced that closing SCI-Pittsburgh would have terrible impact on our local prison workers, economy and the delivery of unique health and rehabilitative services.
“Over 300 of the 550 prison workers are Allegheny County residents. These are good people and solid members of our community. SCI-Pittsburgh’s family-sustaining jobs are good for our community and help fuel our region’s economy.
“Closing SCI-Pittsburgh would also hamper crucial health and rehabilitative programs that are unique to the Pittsburgh facility. Ranging from the entire prison system’s lone oncology unit to SCI-Pittsburgh’s programs that help veterans and those with substance abuse problems, it would be a serious mistake to close the Pittsburgh facility. The worsening opioid abuse epidemic raging across our state makes closing SCI-Pittsburgh even more perplexing. I’m encouraged that prison administrators admitted how difficult it would be to consolidate many of SCI-Pittsburgh’s specialty programs and services. Hopefully, they will decide to keep the prison open.
“For my part, I will continue to fight to keep SCI-Pittsburgh open. I urge fellow local lawmakers, county and city officials, and community leaders to also step up and join this effort to save the prison. Staying silent only emboldens those who are targeting SCI-Pittsburgh. We need a strong and unified voice to protect these jobs and this economic generator.”
# # #