PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Union members at State Correctional Institute – Greensburg are already getting placement letters letting them know where they will be working when the facility shuts down in a few months.
Meanwhile, elected officials and representatives from the prison met behind closed doors Tuesday morning to talk about how the closing of the prison will impact the community.
The Hempfield Township municipal building became the meeting place for elected officials in this region and others who came together to share information about the closing of SCI Greensburg.
It was closed to the public, but two people who thought they should have been included were left standing outside looking in.
“We are involved,” Corrie Rigney, who is the wife of one of the corrections officers, said. “We are involved, my husband, I am here to speak for him and Lance works for the state too and is president of the union. For them not to let us in, that’s a kick in the face.”
“We should be allowed in,” Union President Lance Burkholder said. “I don’t consider us public, being this is a direct effect to our families, our families are being affected.”
SCI Greensburg is home to nearly 900 inmates and a workplace for nearly 500 employees. But according to the Corrections Secretary, the place will close June 30.
At today meeting was Chris Abruzzo, the Governor’s Chief of Staff.
“We stand by our decision to close the prison, as difficult a decision it was,” he said. “It was the right decision, just unfortunate it had to be in somebody’s back yard.”
Abruzzo says the inmate population has leveled off and an older SCI Greensburg is too costly to run. The state hopes to save $23 million next year by closing it and a second facility.
Inmates will be transferred to new less expensive prisons in Bellefonte, Pa. One of them is the new Centre County Prison, the other is SCI Rockview.
Many at the meeting seemed satisfied with what the state is doing to help the workers like Senator Kim Ward.
“They are trying to help them find jobs,” she said. “Today we learned they have taken steps that they had not taken to assist in that process. They have opened up positions that were not open before. We were so nervous that people would have to move out of the area.”
Rigney says she is thankful her husband has a job and that the family will not have to move, but the closing is a hardship. It will now take her husband an hour to get to work.
“We have to get a new car,” Rigney said. “All the extra expenses, they are not compensating anybody.”