Monday, June 11, 2018

"Can the rural prison economy survive the era of decarceration?"

Justice Reinvestment 2, a package of bills that passed out of the state Senate but is awaiting consideration by the House, aims to save $48 million by shedding 696 inmates over five years.


Last year, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance analyzed the impact of closing any one of three prisons in that corner of the state. It found that if one were to close, not only would 400 or more prison employees be out of work, but more than 100 other jobs, like those at restaurants frequented by staff and visitors, would disappear, sapping tens of millions of dollars from the regional economy.

And that would be just the start, said Brian Hansbury, vice president of the Schuylkill Economic Development Corp.

As he studied the potential impact of closing SCI Frackville, he grew alarmed. The sewer authority would lose $348,000 annually, nearly a quarter of its revenue. The water authority would lose $283,000. And Wheelabrator, a cogeneration plant powered by waste coal from long-defunct anthracite mines, would lose a $700,000 contract to provide steam to heat the prison.