Save SCI Retreat: Round 2 goes to the public

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NANTICOKE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBREWYOU)– The future of an area prison continues to be uncertain. If the state correctional institution shuts down, the livelihood of an entire region could be impacted.

‘Save SCI Retreat Round Two’ continues. Eyewitness News brought you exclusive coverage last week, as stakeholders had a sit-down with Department of Corrections officials last week in Newport township. Thursday, the fight to save SCI got a second public outcry.

“The potential closure is not a decision that any of us take lightly,” executive deputy secretary Tabb Bickell assured a packed auditorium in Nanticoke– one of the communities that would be devastated by SCI Retreat’s closure.

This is the second time he’s had to sit face-to-face with a community that is fighting to keep jobs and personnel. State senator John Yudichak took part in the prior shareholders meeting and says the showing in Nanticoke is exactly what he expected to see.

“This is very personal,” Yudichak said. “This is about their families–ripping their families apart, taking jobs out of our communities and making our communities less safe. That’s what I’m hearing tonight.”

The line of those who signed up to give public comment stretched far beyond the auditorium door. One elected official offered this option: what if the county met the state halfway, lessening the burden of a department in a financial crisis.

“Good news. I’m the manager of Luzerne County. We live in crisis,” said Luzerne County Manager David Petri. “We’re coming around a corner here, in Luzerne County, in so many different ways. Our financial house is getting us back in order. Taking this away would put us in a huge setback. We can work together with the state and keep SCI Retreat open. I know we can if the department of corrections will let us do that.”

The potential closing of SCI Retreat could be damning to taxpayers and communities throughout the county. One thing is different from this and the previous set of meetings. There’s more of a feeling that the DOC is truly listening.

A major concern from officials and the public is the overcrowding in other state institutions. The argument is that closing SCI would worsen that issue and put other institutions in as much stress as the SCI Retreat community would be without their center.

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