"Yesterday morning Pam Roberts and I toured SCI Camp Hill with three Deputy Secretaries from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. The facility houses 3,500 inmates including those transferred from SCI Pittsburgh and the state of Vermont.
We specifically wanted to see the Re-entry area where inmates are "short timers" like we referred to when I was in the United States Army. These inmates will be released soon after their home plans are approved, etc.
We observed them with a counselor receiving instructions on what to expect when they return home. The group of about 61 were both young, old, African American, Caucasian and Latino. The counsellor recognized me from CRESC meetings and greeted me warmly. The staff informed that Larry Washington visits frequently.
One of the inmates from the Lancaster area explained on the computers how they create their resumes, do job searches and look for training opportunities. This particular man was hoping to get into welding and planned to investigate CareerLink in Lancaster. I suggested that he look at Thaddeus Stevens in Lancaster also.
Inmates are provided tablets to correspond with family and friends and to keep their resumes. Upon release they get a "thumb drive" and the tablet is returned to the vendor to be "scrubbed" of all information and recycled for the next inmate.
The staff was a little confused because they referred to training at HACC Middletown Campus and I remarked I did not know they had a campus there. As it turned out they were misinformed and meant the Midtown Campus in Midtown Harrisburg.
We toured the Education Building which consisted of a computer lab with Dell computers. The instructor, Mr. Moran had certificates from Millersville and Villanova Universities. Mr. Bruce Elliott, a Bishop McDevitt graduate and SCI Camp Hill Principal turned out to be the brother-in-law of Helen Elliott, the President of Coalition on Labor Union Women, one of the four labor organizations of which I am a member and has indicated their interest in mass incarceration as directed by their national office.
The tour included visits to the regular library and the law library. We also toured the Graphics and Print Shop that was supervised by a Nigerian gentleman. He readily showed me publications in Spanish, Hebrew and other languages. They produce posters, maps, calendars and a host of other items. Due to time restraints, we did not get into the barber shop which gives 80 haircuts a day or the chapel since it was approaching the dinner time.
We walked freely on the grounds among the inmates in brown and blue attire. Those in blue were awaiting classification. Those in brown just regular inmates. One said hello and winked at me. The CO's spoke and said "Have a nice day". We did not recognize any inmates at the prison that we knew.
I inquired about Eric Frein who is now out at SCI Greene with Jerry Sandusky. SCI thought they were going to get Bill Cosby but that case is far from being resolved!
The Deputy Secretaries inquired if I had ever been there before and I told them that I had visited years ago before the "riot" with my mother. We attended a boxing match between Camp Hill and Pittsburgh.
We returned to the main gate, thanked our escorts and agreed it had been an interesting tour. Deputy Executive Secretary Shirley Moore Smeal informed us that tours are welcomed as well as volunteers. If we required any additional information, please let her know and she will get it.