Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

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Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Agency overview
Formed 1829
Preceding agency Bureau of Correction
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* State of Pennsylvania, USA
Map of USA PA.svg
Map of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections's jurisdiction.
Size 46,055 square miles (119,280 km2)
Population 12,448,279 (2008 est.)[1]
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Hampden Township, Cumberland County
Agency executive John E. Wetzel, Secretary-designee
Pennsylvania DOC Website
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) is the Pennsylvania state agency that is responsible for the confinement, care and rehabilitation of approximately 51,000 inmates at state correctional facilities funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The agency has its headquarters in Hampden Township, Cumberland County in Greater Harrisburg, near Mechanicsburg.

As of February 2011, there are 26 state correctional institutions, one motivational boot camp, one central training academy, 15 community corrections centers, and the DOC contracts with approximately 40 contractors across the Commonwealth that provide transitional services. The DOC employs more than 16,000 individuals and houses more than 51,000 inmates.


Pennsylvania has a distinguished reputation in penology. The commonwealth was the birthplace of the penitentiary concept, also known as the Pennsylvania System. Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829, on a cherry orchard outside of Philadelphia, and was considered at the time to be “the world's greatest penitentiary.” Known to historians as "the first true penitentiary," Eastern State operated until 1970.

The Bureau of Correction was created by an act of Legislature in September 1953. The foundation was based on a report by Retired Army Major General Jacob L. Devers, and his special committee to investigate prison problems. The committee was convened shortly after riots at Pittsburgh and Rockview in early 1953. It was the committee's mission to recommend ways to improve the correctional system and reduce unrest. Up to this point the state’s prisons fell under the Department of Welfare. Here they were governed by their own boards of trustees. The Devers Committee suggested the establishment of one agency, whose sole purpose was to manage the state prison system. Appointed by Gov. John S. Fine, Arthur T. Prasse was selected as the first commissioner of corrections, where he remained until 1970.

In 1980, the Bureau of Correction changed hands from the former Pennsylvania Department of Justice, to the newly created Office of General Counsel to the Governor. Constitutional changes resulted in an elected state attorney general, and the disbanding of the Justice Department.[2]

In 1984, under Act 245, the Bureau of Correction was elevated to cabinet-level status, making it the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.[3]


The Department of Corrections maintains 27 institutions across the state as well as the Community Corrections Center, where offenders prepare for re-entry into the community.

The facilities are classified into 4 security levels: Minimum, Medium, Close, and finally Maximum.

Adult Male Institutions

  • SCI Albion - Medium Security
  • SCI Benner - Medium Security
  • SCI Camp Hill - Male Diagnostic and Classification Center
  • SCI Chester - Substance Abuse Treatment Facility
  • SCI Coal Township - Medium Security
  • SCI Cresson - Medium Security
  • SCI Dallas - Medium Security
  • SCI Fayette - Maximum Security
  • SCI Forest - Maximum Security
  • SCI Frackville - Maximum Security
  • SCI Graterford - Maximum Security
  • SCI Greensburg - Medium Security
  • SCI Greene - Capital Case Inmates
  • SCI Houtzdale - Medium Security
  • SCI Huntingdon - Close Security
  • SCI Laurel Highlands - Minimum Security
  • SCI Mahanoy - Medium Security
  • SCI Mercer - Minimum Security
  • SCI Pine Grove - Maximum Security
  • SCI Pittsburgh - Minimum to Lower-Medium Security
  • SCI Retreat - Medium Security
  • SCI Rockview - Medium Security
  • SCI Smithfield - Close Security
  • SCI Somerset - Medium Security
  • SCI Waymart - Psychiatric Care and Treatment Facility and Medium Security

Adult Female Institution

  • SCI Cambridge Springs - Minimum Security
  • SCI Muncy - Female Diagnostic and Classification Center, Capital Case Inmates, Close Security

Co-Ed Boot Camp

  • Quehanna Bootcamp - Minimum Security Motivational Bootcamp

Contract institutions

From 2010 until May 2011, Muskegon Correctional Facility in Michigan held Pennsylvania prisoners under a contract.[4]

Death row

The execution chamber of the State of Pennsylvania is on the grounds of State Correctional Institution – Rockview. Male death row inmates are housed in State Correctional Institution – Greene and State Correctional Institution – Graterford. Female death row inmates are housed in State Correctional Institution – Muncy.


The agency has its headquarters in Hampden Township, Cumberland County in Greater Harrisburg, near Mechanicsburg.[5][6] The headquarters are located along Technology Parkway, in proximity to a residential area.[7]

The agency previously had its headquarters in Lower Allen Township, near Camp Hill, also in Greater Harrisburg.[8][9] In 2010 the former headquarters were crowded with employees. Construction on the new headquarters started around 2010.[7]

Training academy

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Training Academy serves as a training area for prison employees working for the state and employees working for the county.[10] It is located in Mount Joy Township, Lancaster County,[11][12] near Elizabethtown and 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Harrisburg. The academy includes nine buildings on 265 acres (107 ha) of land.[10]

The facility was originally the State Hospital for Crippled Children, which opened in 1930. In 1991 the corrections department acquired the facility.[10]

See also


  1. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  3. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections history page accessed Aug. 28, 2008
  4. Hausman, John S. "Muskegon Correctional Facility ends operations as last Pennsylvania prisoners ride out." Muskegon Chronicle. Wednesday May 25, 2011. Retrieved on June 3, 2011.
  5. "Contact Us." Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Retrieved on October 5, 2012. "Central Office: 1920 Technology Parkway, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050"
  6. "Street Map." (Archive) Hampden Township. Retrieved on October 5, 2012.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Gibson, Elizabeth. "New Hampden facility will hold Correction Department offices, not prison." The Patriot-News. Friday February 19, 2010. Retrieved on October 5, 2012.
  8. "Welcome to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections." Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Retrieved on December 7, 2009. "2520 Lisburn Road, P.O. Box 598, Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598 (717) 975-4859 (Note: This address is for the Department of Corrections' Central Office."
  9. "Lower Allen township, Pennsylvania." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on December 7, 2009.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Performance Audit Training Academy at Elizabethtown July 1, 2005, to July 11, 2008." (Archive) Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. p. 3. Retrieved on October 5, 2012.
  11. "Zoning Map." (Archive) Mount Joy Township. Retrieved on October 5, 2012.
  12. "Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Training Academy." Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Retrieved on October 5, 2012.

External links