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Dept. of Corrections to Shift Western PA Prisons

The Department of Corrections says it will close two state prisons in western Pennsylvania and open a new one in a move to cut costs.

Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said Wednesday the move will mean savings of $23 million.

Benner State Prison in Centre County can house 2,000 inmates, but it's been vacant since being finished last year. Greensburg State Prison in Westmoreland County and Cresson State Prison in Cambria County will be closed. Wetzel says he picked the facilities to close because of the high cost or difficulty to operate them, but state Sen. Kim Ward of Westmoreland County says she wants hearings to learn how the state came to its decision.

The state counts more than 51,000 inmates, including about 2,400 in county jails or community correctional centers.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.