Pennsylvania Prisons

Zhoa / Flickr

After concerns that inmates were receiving drugs along with their literature, Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections is in the middle of overhauling the way inmates get books.

Prisons Say Changes After Guards Fell Ill Have Cut Smuggling

Oct 5, 2018
Mark Scolforo / AP

Pennsylvania prison officials say they are seeing positive results from changes to mail and visiting policies meant to address a slew of incidents in recent months that caused dozens of corrections officers and other employees to seek medical help for suspected exposure to synthetic marijuana.

Mick Stinelli / 90.5 WESA

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Kelley McCall / AP

Pennsylvania's statewide prison system remains locked down after dozens of employees at different locations became sick over the past month. Department of Corrections officials believes the staff came into contact with a synthetic cannabinoid.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

Over 2,600 inmates at an 89-year-old Pennsylvania prison are being transferred to a new, long-delayed facility about a mile down the road.

The first phase of transfers began just after 9 a.m. Wednesday from the state prison at Graterford to the sprawling, $400 million complex at SCI Phoenix, according to a statement from the Department of Corrections.

Several hundred inmates will be moved each day, for however long it takes to complete the operation, officials said. They didn't add how long they expected the move to take. On Wednesday, most were moved by van.

Marc Levy / AP

In Pennsylvania, about 60 percent of parolees are rearrested or reenter the prison system within three years of release. About 20,000 people are released from the prison system each year.

Over two years, a University of Maryland study commissioned by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections found inmates willing to relocate cities after release were seven percent less likely to be rearrested or reincarcerated, compared to their peers who went back to their former communities.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Following legal suits arguing that the Pennsylvania's Congressional district map unfairly serves Republicans, the state Supreme Court has ordered new lines be constructed and submitted by Feb. 15, only three months before the commonwealth's primary elections. The GOP plans to appeal to the U.S.

Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania is being sued by five inmates for a blanket policy that keeps all death row prisoners in solitary confinement.

Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania's governor is moving to consolidate parts of the state's prison and parole systems in hopes of saving money by eliminating duplicated functions.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday that the Corrections Department and the Board of Probation and Parole will sign a memorandum of understanding that will outline their combined operations.

The two entities will remain separate but share employees, land, facilities and equipment.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania Corrections Secretary John Wetzel began his criminal justice career in 1989, just as the commonwealth's prison population began to balloon.

It was the beginning of America's mass incarceration era -- one that Wetzel said his office is only now beginning to reverse.

Pennsylvania Grapples With New Sentences For Juvenile Lifers

Jul 31, 2017
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections / AP

On a long-ago summer night, 16-year-old Giovanni Reid accepted a neighbor's invitation to an International House of Pancakes restaurant as thanks for watching the man's infant son.

Associated Press

The state House has passed a bill to keep certain drug and violent crime offenders in prison longer.

Jobs for Felons Hub / flickr

The U.S. Department of Education has revamped a higher education program for prisoners, and four schools in the Commonwealth have been selected to participate. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Villanova, Bloomsburg University and the Lehigh Carbon Community College will create the curriculum to educate prisoners selected for the grants under the new Second Chance Pell Grant pilot.

Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections

Pennsylvania’s prison system won’t run out of money this month, though it doesn’t technically have spending authority under the state budget.

Nearly half of the state corrections budget was vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf late last year, in a bid to force lawmakers back into budget negotiations.

That hasn’t happened, and now the treasury has stepped in to approve payments of prison operating expenses, including employee salaries, security and safety costs, health care and inmates’ food.