The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

January 18, 2013

Readers' Forum 1-18 | Entities ensure state’s disabled represented

— Today we commemorate Pennsylvanians with Disabilities Day.

As we prepare to honor disabled Pennsylvanians, I want to offer a reminder of services available to them through the state.

It has been nearly 22 years since President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a nation, and as a state, we have come a long way since then to help the disabled achieve employment and live as independently as possible.

In Pennsylvania, three entities are working to ensure that the state’s disabled population is represented:

* The Governor’s Cabinet for People with Disabilities makes recommendations to the governor on policies, procedure regulations and legislation that assist people with disabilities.

* The state Department of Public Welfare (www.dpw.state.pa.us) supports programs for people with disabilities including assisted living and personal care homes, community services and medical assistance.

* Finally, the state Department of Labor and Industry (www.dli.state.pa.us) provides comprehensive services to assist the disabled with finding a job, determining eligibility for Social Security disability benefits and much more.

My staff and I are always available to help constituents navigate through the myriad services available to them – and we are happy to do so. Please know that you have an advocate for you here at home and in Harrisburg.

Frank Burns

Jackson Township

State Representative, 72nd District

Statements don’t support Cresson facts

Statements made by the state Department of Corrections concerning the closing of SCI-Cresson are puzzling and factually incorrect.

Officials claim the jail is old and inefficient. But taxpayers have spent more than $60 million to upgrade the prison to as high a standard as most of the prisons across the state.

They claim that the prison’s operational costs are too high. They are using their own figures. There are many prisons in Pennsylvania more expensive to operate.

They claim the prison takes more officers to operate due to age. However, like most modern prisons, Cresson has a bank of cameras to assist the officers watching the inmates. One cell block (less than 8 years old) is computerized to enhance security. Does that sound old to anyone?

They claim that inmate populations are dropping. But the trends over the past 40 years say differently – a fact that the secretary of corrections admitted in a report he issued in 2011. Why the change?

They claim they are paroling inmates faster, but more than 50 percent of paroled inmates return to prison.

They claim that Cresson isn’t a “specialized” prison, but inmates from all over the state are shipped here because of Cresson’s special-needs programs.

Why would you shut down any prison when 17 of the 20 prisons in the state are overcrowded?

Why would you keep calling it old when you know that most of the buildings are less than 35 years old and all have been upgraded to meet and surpass standards?

Dennis Dignan

Cresson

Sci-Cresson retiree

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