Pennsylvania’s Prosecutors on Prison Closings: Public Safety Must Come First

January 23, 2017

HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association will respond to Governor Tom Wolf’s proposal to close two state prisons tomorrow, saying that general budget deficits must not compromise public safety and that before the state moves forward with the proposal all aspects of the closures on public safety must be carefully scrutinized.

“Public safety must come first,” said PDAA Communications Chair and Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed on the eve of the hearing.  “The security of our communities should never be a budget-driven decision.”

Freed will testify to those concerns at a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Majority Policy Committees on Monday, January 23, 2017.  The hearing is expected to begin at 9 a.m. in Hearing Room 1 of the North Office Building, with Freed scheduled to testify around 11 a.m.  Freed’s jurisdiction includes the Camp Hill State Correctional Institution, which is slated to absorb some of the closures’ inmate population.

“Pennsylvania’s prosecutors have supported smart reforms to our corrections system, but we can’t support closing prisons simply to close budget gaps if it hurts public safety,” said Freed, “If there was no budget problem, would these closures still be proposed?”

Freed will stress that it is incumbent upon the administration and legislature to carefully scrutinize all of the potential impact and outcomes the proposal will have on community safety and the integrity of Pennsylvania’s corrections system including local public safety and impact of closures, offenders’ access to much-needed programming and treatment, safety of corrections officers and the pressure closures may place on the Parole Board to release more offenders.