Hearing set for possible closure of Mercer state prison - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Hearing set for possible closure of Mercer state prison

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SCI Mercer SCI Mercer

The state of Pennsylvania faces a serious budget deficit so the Governor wants to close two state prisons.  

Mercer is one of five prisons on the list of possible closures.

According to the state closing Mercer would save $46 million a year and it's minimum security population of around 1400 inmates could easily be absorbed into other nearby prisons.

County commissioners say the county can't afford the loss of 413 well-paid employees, especially after the announcement of recent closures of the Macy's and Sears in Hermitage. 

They also say the state doesn't have all the right information about the prison.

"We have discovered that some of the reasons they have for closing our prison are because of upgrades that are needed. We've found many of those upgrades are actually already in place or are in the process of being updated now," said Mercer County Commissioner, Timothy McGonigle.

The state has actually paid $20 million on upgrades to the facility which was built in 1978.
And it turns out having a prison in Mercer is a lot cheaper than having one in Philly.

"We understand the cost of operating that facility is less than it is in other parts of the state so we should get a fair shake at making a case to keep it here," said Commissioner Scott Boyd.

In fact, SCI Mercer has the lowest inmate costs on the list of five. The cost to house an inmate here is about $39,000 a year. 

State lawmakers will debate the issue as to which prisons should close at a meeting scheduled for January 23rd in Harrisburg.  

They will make their final decision on January 26th.

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