Pledging to work with local and county officials to operate a safe and secure institution that will bring economic benefits to Northwest Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Corrections Secretary Jeffrey A. Beard and General Services Secretary Kelly Powell Logan marked the beginning of construction of a new 2,032-bed, maximum-security state correctional institution in Forest County.
Beard and Powell Logan were joined by U.S. Congressman John Peterson (R-5th District), state Rep. James Lynch (R-Warren), Forest County Commissioners and other local officials for a ceremonial groundbreaking for State Correctional Institution (SCI) Forest.
"This new institution will underscore our commitment to public safety, to Northwest Pennsylvania, and to the hard-working men and women of the Department of Corrections," Secretary Beard said. "We look forward to working in partnership with officials and citizens throughout this region as we carry out our mission.
"SCI Forest will be an institution that, first and foremost, will be safe, secure and humane. Without that, you really can’t talk about making people better, or changing people, or giving people an opportunity for growth and change.
"But it also will be an institution that will be a `good neighbor’ to this area -- one that will provide significant long-term economic benefits for this region."
The state-of-the-art facility will be built on approximately 205 acres in Jenks Township at a cost of about $126 million. Twenty-five buildings will be constructed on 55 acres inside the prison fence.
Construction of the facility is expected to be completed in November 2003. The Department of Corrections will begin moving inmates into the facility in early 2004, and SCI Forest should be fully operational by the end of 2004.
SCI Forest will employ about 700, Secretary Beard said. It will house adult male inmates.
Following a system-wide review of security practices in late 1999, former Gov. Tom Ridge authorized the construction of SCI Forest to help expand capacity in the state’s correctional system.
The opening of SCI Forest, as well as the opening of the new SCI Fayette in mid-2003, will add more than 2,300 beds to the state correctional system.
"SCI Forest will be a critical part of the department’s efforts to keep pace with the housing needs of our inmate population," Beard said.
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