State Correctional Institution – Pittsburgh

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State Correctional Institution – Pittsburgh
Seal of the Department of Corrections of Pennsylvania.svg
Location Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°28′13″N 80°2′28″W / 40.47028°N 80.04111°W / 40.47028; -80.04111Coordinates: 40°28′13″N 80°2′28″W / 40.47028°N 80.04111°W / 40.47028; -80.04111
Status Open
Security class Low-Security, Medium-Security
Population 1,500
Opened 1826
1882 (Present location)
Closed 2005–2007
Former name Western Penitentiary
Managed by Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Director Carol A. Scire
Governor Tom Corbett
Warden Louis Folino

State Correctional Institution – Pittsburgh (historically known as the "Western Penitentiary" or the "West Pen") is a low-to-medium security correctional institution, operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, located[1] about five miles west of Downtown Pittsburgh and within city limits. The facility is on the banks of the Ohio River, and is located on 21 acres of land. (12 acres within the perimeter fence.) It was the first prison west of the Atlantic Plain as well as a major Civil War prison in 1863–1864.

Facility History[edit]

Western Penitentiary was originally built in 1826 a few blocks east of the current facility by the architect Strickland.[2]

During Charles Dickens visit to the city March 20-22 1842, he visited the original prison and some scholars believe he based the classic A Christmas Carol on conditions at the facility.

The original location is also famous for housing 118 Confederate soldiers after their capture in Morgan's Raid a dozen miles to the west. It held them from August 5, 1863 until they were transferred to a military fort in New Jersey on March 18, 1864. Although conditions were good for the time, at least eight confederates died during the winter, one while attempting escape.[3]

The present facility opened on its current site in 1882, operating as one of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's first correctional facilities, which at the time, held some maximum-security inmates. In January 2005, after transferring the inmates to SCI-Fayette,[4] the facility was mothballed. In 2007, the facility re-opened with its current name.[5] It houses low and medium security inmates who require substance abuse treatment.

G-20 Protests[edit]

During the 2009 G-20 Pittsburgh summit, the prison was used as the main processing facility for rioters and protesters that were detained and arrested during the week long summit. Radio host Alex Jones has broadcast accounts of his staff being rounded up—with press credentials—to the prison.

Fictional Portrayals[edit]

The 1978 film The Brink's Job the character Stanley Gusciora is sentenced to 20 years at the "Western Penitentiary at Pittsburgh".

References[edit]

  1. ^ PA Dept. of Corrections – SCI Pittsburgh Webpage(Retrieved: 5/4/2011)
  2. ^ n° 295 de la revue : Architecture intérieure, CREE - 1977
  3. ^ http://www.lhs15201.org/articles_b.asp?ID=8
  4. ^ Fayette residents hope prison holds promise of better future Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Retrieved:5/4/2011)
  5. ^ PA Dept. of Corrections – SCI Pittsburgh Webpage(Retrieved: 5/4/2011)

External links[edit]