Pennsylvania's newest prison will open today in Centre County as correctional officials get ready to close older prisons in Greensburg and Cambria County by June 30.
State Correctional Institution Benner will open with speeches by Corrections Secretary John Wetzel and other politicians. It will hold 2,000 inmates and is located near the existing SCI Rockview.
Mr. Wetzel decided to close two other prisons, SCI Greensburg in Westmoreland County and SCI Cresson in Cambria County, in an effort to save at least $23 million annually.
The decision upset many correctional officers and other employees at the two prisons because they have to find jobs at other facilities or retire.
Many are seeking positions at Benner.
State legislators from Westmoreland and Cambria counties were also upset at the closing decision, announced in early January. They said the economies of the two areas will be hurt, with the loss of 300 prison jobs at Greensburg and 500 jobs at Cresson.
Greensburg had about 1,000 inmates but is now down to about 800. Cresson had 1,400 but is down to less than 1,000 as inmates are being moved out.
Most of the inmates from those two older prisons will go to Benner, officials have said.
The state will have 26 correctional institutions once Benner opens and the other two prisons are closed.