An effort to transfer 2,000 Pennsylvania prisoners to vacant Michigan and Virginia facilities should be finished before May.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton says about 1,100 inmates have finished the bus trip to Michigan, while about 500 are in Virginia. The remaining 400 will be sent to Virginia.
McNaughton says overcrowding had brought up safety issues in Pennsylvania prisons, so the other states will house the prisoners until four new state prisons can be built.
She says the criteria for an inmate to be moved was broad.
“It was going to be inmates who had at least three years left on their sentences to serve,” says McNaughton. “They have no serious medical conditions or mental health issues or behavior issues, and we were also looking at inmates who had very few, if any, visitors.”
McNaughton says a virtual visitation program allows family members to talk with relocated inmates via closed-circuit television at some state prisons, and at sites in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
McNaughton says it is her department’s policy to tell a prisoner he or she is moving about a day before the relocation occurs. She says the prisoner is then prevented from calling anyone to thwart any possible escape attempts.