Funding provided for 2 closed prisons

The state Department of Corrections will be spending $1.77 million in the next year to provide maintenance and security for two closed state prisons.

State correctional institutions at Cresson and Greensburg were shuttered this spring with inmates transferred to other state facilities, including the new 2,000-bed SCI Benner Township in Centre County.

Capitolwire reports the Corrections Department has awarded $836,603 in contracts for maintenance and security at the former SCI Cresson and $933,841 in contracts for former SCI Greensburg.

All of the contracts are for one year.

P&M Brenneman Services LLC of Littlestown, Adams County, has been awarded a contract for $635,310 to provide maintenance and mothballing services, such as electricity and water, at Cresson, while Sewickley-based Black Knight Security Inc. will be paid $201,293 to provide security services.

At SCI Greensburg, Energy Management Concepts Inc. of Carlisle will handle maintenance and mothballing under a $789,739 contract, while Peak Security Inc. of Pittsburgh will provide security for $144,102.

EMC already has a presence at SCI Greensburg. An EMC subsidiary, Greensburg Thermal LLC, designed and built a system using waste coal as the main fuel and with co-generation to offset electricity purchases at the prison, the company’s website states.

State corrections officials informed state lawmakers on Jan. 8 about plans to close SCI Cresson and Greensburg and start operations at the newly constructed Benner Township.

John Wetzel, Department of Corrections secretary, said in January that closing the prisons and shifting inmates to SCI Benner Township was expected to save taxpayers $23 million in the first year and about $35 million annually after that.

“They [SCI Cresson and Greensburg] are costly to maintain and require more resources,” Wetzel said during a January news conference in Harrisburg. “The new prison at SCI Benner Township is less costly to operate, requires fewer resources to operate and provides a more secure design for the safety of the staff and inmate population.”

About 500 people were employed at SCI Cresson, while the about 300 were

on the payroll at Greensburg.

Most of those workers were able to transfer to other jobs in the state prison system, officials said.

SCI Cresson housed about 1,400 inmates, while Greensburg held nearly 1,000.

State officials plan to sell the closed prisons once appraisals are completed. A Department of General Services last month said it could be six months to a year before the 451-acre Cresson facility and the 123-acre Greensburg prison officially go on the market.