There was an article in the paper recently about a protest going on outside of the Graterford Prison near Schwenksville. They protestors are opposed to the $400 million proposal to replace the current prison with two new facilities and 800 new beds. I am not sure if that is 800 in each or a total of 800.
The current facility has 3121 beds and was built in 1929, so the reduction is pretty dramatic and doesn’t make sense to me. It is the currently listed as the largest maximum security prison. In 1989, they did a construction project to the tune of an $80 million that added a new administration building, a 28-bed infirmary and 372 additional cells. According to Wikipedia, “SCI-Graterford Industries provides work and economic activity within the prison, including a garment factory, undergarment factory, shoe factory, weave plant, hosiery factory, carton factory, and a mail distribution center. Prison factories and industries employ 21 civilian staff, 315 inmate staff, and in 2003-2004 generated revenues of $4,450,940.01. The prison also conducts farming operations and educational programs.” I don’t know if those programs are still going on.
In the budget Governor Corbet signed into law, he cut basic education funding $900 million across the state. Part of these cuts included grants that were put in place for full day kindergarten. In addition his $27.1 billion plan he cut state universities another 20 percent to 30 percent (on top of last year’s 20 percent cuts). These cuts also trimmed human services — programs that serve children, homeless and the mentally disabled — by 20 percent. Since we are grasping at funding for all manner of things, is this investment in incarceration a wise one? What would happen if he took that $400 million and invested it in education? Is it extremely possible that we could keep people out of jail. Or are the revenues from the prisons and the fact that “that element” are locked away the point of prisons in the first place? Seems like the priorities of our governor of out of wack.