State Correctional Institution – Rockview
|Location||Benner Township, Centre County, Pennsylvania, USA|
|Managed by||Pennsylvania Department of Corrections|
The State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Rockview, commonly referred to as Rockview, is a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections prison located in Benner Township, Pennsylvania, 5 miles (8.0 km) away from Bellefonte.
SCI Rockview, which began in 1912 and was completed in 1915, was intended to replace Eastern State Penitentiary and Western Penitentiary. Instead it became a branch prison of Western housing lesser security risk prisoners employed in the extensive farm program outside the gates. Rockview is now a medium-security institution for men. Pennsylvania's execution chamber is located on the grounds of Rockview; however, there is no "death row" there. Condemned prisoners are transported to Rockview from death rows in maximum security prisons across the state several days before their scheduled execution.
Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania, began a research seminar class held at Rockview known as the Inside/Out Program led by Dr. Thomas Bernard. The first class was held in the Spring of 2007, and made up of 15 Penn State students. These students were taken right into the heart of the institution every week to attend class alongside of 15 low-security, hand chosen, Rockview inmates. The inmates and the students would work side by side discussing assigned criminology theories to rate their validity and discuss ways in which policy and programs can reduce crime.
Construction of Rockview began in 1912, and the prison opened three years later in 1915. In 1913, the Pennsylvania State Legislature approved electrocution and the electric chair took the place of the gallows.
At that time, the Pennsylvania State Legislature selected the new Western Penitentiary in Centre County, now known as Rockview, as the location of the chair. Neither the chair nor the institution were ready for occupancy until 1915.
Between 1915 and 1962, 348 men and two women died in Pennsylvania's electric chair. The first woman to die in the electric chair was Irene Crawford Schroeder aka Shrader February 23, 1931. In 1972, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision Commonwealth v. Bradley invalidated the administration of the death penalty. In 1974, Pennsylvania drafted new capital punishment legislation, but it was once again invalidated in 1977. The next year, yet again, new capital punishment legislature was drafted and signed into law.
The film On The Yard (1979) was filmed entirely at this prison and used actual inmates as extras in the film. It stars John Heard, Thomas Waites, and Mike Kellin.
Since June 1997, the state execution chamber has been located in a two story former field hospital located on the prison grounds outside of the perimeter of the main Rockview SCI facility. The hospital was renovated into a maximum security building that houses the execution chamber and a holding area for death row inmates. This allows officials to prepare for and implement an execution without disrupting the operations of the main Rockview facility. In addition, witnesses do not have to enter the main facility to view an execution. The renovated building gained three cells with cell furniture, floor covering, telephones, an electronic monitoring system, and locking mechanisms. Materials transferred from the previous location include the bullet-proof glass room divider, the tables, and the chairs. The first floor houses the death chamber, while the second floor contains offices for other prison-related operations.
- "Benner Township Zoning Map." Zoning Ordinance. Benner Township, March 2009. Retrieved on July 26, 2010
- "Pennsylvania Department of Corrections: SCI Rockview". Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
- "Pennsylvania Department of Corrections: History". Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Retrieved 2009-08-04.[dead link]
- "Death Penalty FAQ." Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. 2 (2/4). Retrieved on July 26, 2010.