HARRISBURG – Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved bipartisan legislation reforming possible state prison closures in Pennsylvania.
On January 6, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections publicly announced the closures of two of five selected state correctional institutions located across the state. A final decision for closures was set for January 26, 2017, leaving only twenty days to gather feedback from parties directly affected by these closings, including the institutions’ workforce, local governments and elected officials.
Senate Bill 748 establishes the Public Safety Facilities Act which ensures there is adequate notice and consideration of any proposed state correctional institution closures, as well as other structures that employ law enforcement staff. The bill requires specific notification requirements and the development of comprehensive strategies to minimize undue stress on employees and local communities. The bill is modeled after a law passed in New York regarding a similar debate.
The prime sponsor of the bill, Senator David G. Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill), noted the importance of creating an open dialogue between state facilities and local communities. “Wherever state facilities are located, an immensely important economic relationship is developed with local communities. If the necessity arises for changing that relationship, it should result from an open and extensive discussion with all affected parties,” Argall said.
The bill will now move to the full Senate for consideration.
Contact: Mary Beth Dougherty