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New Prison Closure Hearing Planned After Official Says He Was Pretending To Pay Attention

Jacqueline Larma

People urging Gov. Tom Wolf's administration not to close Retreat State Prison will get a second chance to be heard after a microphone picked up Corrections Secretary John Wetzel during a public hearing whispering to a deputy that he was only pretending to pay attention.

The Citizens' Voice of Wilkes-Barre reports that Wolf's administration scheduled a second hearing Nov. 21. Retreat is near Wilkes-Barre in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Wetzel's comments last month prompted several area lawmakers to urge Wolf to fire him.

Wolf's administration in August announced its plan to close Retreat as money-saving move as the inmate population declines and costs rise.

Retreat has about 400 employees and 1,100 beds. Retreat's original buildings date back to the 19th century and it has the fewest beds of Pennsylvania's 25 state prisons.