By Aziza Jackson
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Secretary John Wetzel recently announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) will make all state prisons tobacco-free beginning July 1.
“Last year we made SCI Graterford tobacco-free prior to relocating that facility to the new SCI Phoenix,” said Wetzel. “Based on that successful transition and on the fact that several other prisons already are tobacco-free, we have decided to make all state prisons tobacco-free. Doing so promotes a healthier environment, which benefits both employees and inmates and increases facility safety through the elimination of black-market tobacco sales inside the prisons.”
Beginning July 1, tobacco products will no longer be permitted inside the secure perimeter of any Pennsylvania state prison. Tobacco products discovered or used inside the prison after July 1 by inmates or staff will be considered contraband. The DOC identifies tobacco products as cigarettes, cigars, tobacco (smoking and smokeless), tobacco substitutes, lighters, pipes, pipe cleaners, filters, rolling papers, roller aprons and rollers.
Both inmates and employees will be permitted to use DOC-approved disposable/non-refillable e-cigarettes in designated areas.
Inmates will be provided with smoking cessation programs, educational materials and support services to assist them with this transition. Inmates, working with the prison’s medical department, may purchase nicotine replacement therapy patches through an approved outside vendor.
Educational materials and resources for smoking cessation are available to employees through the State Employee Assistance Program and the Pennsylvania Employee Benefit Trust Fund.
SCIs Chester, Phoenix, Pine Grove and the Quehanna Boot Camp already are tobacco-free facilities.
The DOC is responsible for the overseeing and operations of 24 state correctional institutions, one motivational boot camp, 14 community corrections center and oversees contracts with nearly 50 contract facilities, and one training academy.
The following SCIs (listed in order of their openings) will be tobacco-free starting July 1:
- SCI Huntingdon (Huntingdon County) opened in 1889 and houses adult male inmates.
- SCI Rockview (Centre County) opened in 1915. Today, this facility houses adult male inmates.
- SCI Muncy (Lycoming County) is the diagnostic and classification center for the state’s female inmates. It was originally opened in 1920 and houses adult female offenders and also houses all of the state’s female capital case inmates.
- SCI Camp Hill (Cumberland County) opened in 1941 and now serves as the state’s sole diagnostic and classification center for men and houses adult male inmates.
- SCI Dallas (Luzerne County) was opened in 1960 and now houses adult male inmates.
- SCI Mercer (Mercer County) opened in September 1978 and is a prison for adult male inmates.
- SCI Frackville (Schuylkill County) opened in 1987 and houses adult male inmates.
- SCI Retreat (Luzerne County) opened in 1988. Formerly a state hospital for the mentally ill operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Retreat now houses adult male inmates.
- SCI Smithfield (Huntingdon County) was constructed on the reservation surrounding SCI Huntingdon. Opened in 1988, this facility houses adult male inmates.
- SCI Waymart (Wayne County) was turned into a facility that houses male offenders in October 1995. It houses the Department’s Forensic Treatment Center, a unit which houses mentally disabled male inmates who require inpatient psychiatric care and treatment.
- SCI Cambridge Springs (Crawford County) opened in 1992 and currently operates as a facility for female inmates.
- SCI Somerset (Somerset County) opened in May 1993 as a state prison for men.
- SCI Coal Township (Northumberland County) opened in May 1993 and houses male inmates.
- SCI Mahanoy (Schuylkill County) opened in July 1993 and houses male inmates.
- SCI Albion (Erie County) opened in July 1993 and houses male inmates.
- SCI Greene (Greene County) opened in November 1993 and houses male inmates. This prison also houses a majority of the state’s male capital case inmates.
- SCI Houtzdale (Clearfield County) opened in January 1996 and houses male inmates.
- SCI Laurel Highlands (Somerset County) opened in July 1996 and houses male inmates. This institution also has separate housing units for geriatric and terminally ill male inmates.
- SCI Fayette (Fayette County), which opened in September 2003, houses adult men.
- SCI Forest (Forest County), which opened in October 2004, houses adult men.
- SCI Benner Township (Centre County), opened April 2013, houses adult men and serves as the DOC’s hub for the inmate transportation system.