State Correctional Institution – Graterford

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State Correctional Institution Graterford
Seal of the Department of Corrections of Pennsylvania.svg
Location Skippack Township, Montgomery County, PA
Coordinates 40°13′45″N 75°26′20″W / 40.229277°N 75.438762°W / 40.229277; -75.438762Coordinates: 40°13′45″N 75°26′20″W / 40.229277°N 75.438762°W / 40.229277; -75.438762
Opened 1929
Managed by Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
New Graterford Prison under construction

The Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford, also known variously as SCI Graterford (SCIG), Eastern Correctional Institution, Graterford Prison, Graterford Penitentiary, and the Graterford Prison Farm, is a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections prison located in Skippack Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States,[1] near Graterford.[2] The prison, located on Graterford Road off of Pennsylvania Route 29,[3] is about 31 miles (50 km) northwest of the city of Philadelphia.[2]

The prison houses a small number of male death row inmates.[4]


The facility, built in 1929, is Pennsylvania's largest maximum-security prison, holding about 3,500 prisoners. The grounds include an extensive prison farm on 1,730 acres (7.0 km2); the 62-acre (250,000 m2) prison compound itself lies within 30-foot (9.1 m) high walls surmounted by nine manned towers. An $80 million construction program completed in 1989 added a new administration building, a 28-bed infirmary, and 372 additional cells.

As recently as 1978 the prison held only about 1,600 prisoners in 2,000 available cells distributed among five major cellblocks of 400 cells each. The five major cellblocks were supplemented by about 40 cells in a security unit known as BAU (Behavior Adjustment Unit) or RHU (Restricted Housing Unit); this unit included a special death row section (though executions were never carried out at this prison). The original 1929 plan for the facility included eight major cellblocks of 400 cells each, or 3,200 individual cells. An engraving of this plan is found on a brass plaque just inside the facility's double-gated airlock-type main entrance.

The prison's two current Restricted Housing Units (RHU) are essentially prisons within a prison and house over 300 prisoners — about 10 percent of the total prison population - who are allowed one hour a day for exercise, remaining confined to their cells the other 23, where they receive three meals a day and are permitted shower visits. The prisoners in RHU are allowed only one visitor per month. SCI-Graterford has an 22-bed Mental Health Unit contracted to MHM Services to facilitate a mental health program.

SCI-Graterford Industries provides work and economic activity within the prison, including a garment factory, undergarment factory, shoe factory, weave plant, hosiery factory, carton factory, and a mail distribution center. Prison factories and industries employ 21 civilian staff, 315 inmate staff, and in 2003-2004 generated revenues of $4,450,940.01. The prison also conducts farming operations and educational programs.


The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania plans to construct two new prisons nearby.[5]

An expansion is planned for Graterford Prison in 2011 to 2012 pending legal dispute.[6][7]


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