At the end of the coal and railroad industries, there was little hope left in this region for meaningful employment for the young, as well as the displaced workforce for employment.
By meaningful employment, for the purpose of this letter, I will define it was a job that pays a good wage with benefits and a pension plan.
Many of our youngest and brightest have left the area in search of greener pastures. Sadly, many of our aging workers were forced to take whatever they could find in order to support their families and honor their financial commitments.
Along came the PA Department of Corrections with the opening of the state prison at Cresson. It presented an opportunity for good wages, benefits and a state pension. It's not every man or women that can work in a state prison; prisons are very dangerous environments.
It is not a matter of getting hired, putting on the gray uniform and reporting for your assigned shift. These brave men and women go through many weeks of training and ongoing training during their employment, in order to ensure care, custody and control of the inmate population.
The men and women that wear the Department of Corrections uniform are proud professionals. Their actions are always subject to review, to ensure compliance with departmental policies, and they are subject to arrest if these policies aren't followed to the letter.
What SCI Cresson did was offer hope for a better economic future for Cresson and surrounding communities.
The abrupt closure of this institution will leave those employees with enough time to retire. However, the majority of employees will be forced to commute - in most cases to SCI Benner, a very long and dangerous commute.
The economic impact on the area will be as devastating to the local economies as the coal mine closures and the downsizing of the rail industry in this area. I urge all concerned citizens to write their representatives to fight this closure. These courageous men and women deserve better.
I know I was fortunate enough to have the honor of working at SCI Cresson as a registered nurse for 15 years before retiring in 2009.
There is only one bright side to the closure of SCI Cresson: The Sex Offender Registry for Cambria County will see a significant decline in the number of people on the registry due to the closing of SCI Cresson.
We need a grass-roots effort to stop this closure. Our friends, neighbors and communities depend upon it.
Benjamin C. Spiridigliozzi