State Correctional Institution – Phoenix

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State Correctional Institution – Phoenix
Seal of the Department of Corrections of Pennsylvania.svg
State Correctional Institution – Phoenix is located in Pennsylvania
State Correctional Institution – Phoenix
Location in Pennsylvania
State Correctional Institution – Phoenix is located in the United States
State Correctional Institution – Phoenix
Location in the United States
LocationSkippack Township, Pennsylvania
Coordinates40°13′48″N 75°25′12″W / 40.23000°N 75.42000°W / 40.23000; -75.42000Coordinates: 40°13′48″N 75°25′12″W / 40.23000°N 75.42000°W / 40.23000; -75.42000
Security classMaximum
OpenedJuly 9, 2018 (July 9, 2018)
Managed byPennsylvania Department of Corrections
Street address1200 Mokychic Road
CitySkippack Township
ZIP Code19426

The State Correctional Institution – Phoenix is a state prison in Skippack Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania,[1] with a Collegeville postal address,[2] in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Operated by Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, it was named after the phoenix bird.[3]

Built for $400 million, making it the state prison built for the highest cost in Pennsylvania history,[4][5] it has a capacity of 3,830 prisoners,[6] and as of September 2018, its full time workforce numbered 1,200.[7] Heery International designed the facility.[8] It replaced SCI Graterford.[9] Most prisoners are male, located in the East and West sub units,[3] while it has a re-entry unit for female prisoners with a capacity of 192.[7]

The female unit is not in the main prison perimeter.[3] SCI Phoenix houses some men who are sentenced to death under Pennsylvania law.[10] The department of PA Corrections anticipated that most of the prisoners would be from the area of Philadelphia, and currently SCI Phoenix is the state prison closest to Philadelphia.[11]


The SCI Phoenix buildings were built on the SCI Graterford land area, and the Phoenix and Graterford buildings are about 0.25 mi (0.40 km) apart, with SCI Phoenix fencing beginning about 1,100 feet east of SCI Graterford's fencing.[12][13]

The first bidding for construction of this prison occurred in the decade of the 2000s. The prison, originally to open in November 2014, opened late since Walsh Heery Joint Venture, the construction company, and Hill International, a Philadelphia company representing the State of Pennsylvania, had a dispute over whether the prison was ready to open. As of July 2018, the prison's final cost was still not finalized.[14]

On June 1, 2018, its dedication ceremony was held, and the prison began operations on July 9, 2018.[2] The state began moving Graterford prisoners there on July 11, 2018, and Graterford ended operations on July 15.[15] Graterford's employees now were employees of Phoenix.[5] Some inmates disliked the move as they feared they would be sharing cells with other inmates, while at Graterford they had single cells.[16]

The population of Graterford was to reduce to 2,588 inmates by June 2018,[17] so that the transfer of inmates to Phoenix would not involve as many people, and Phoenix eventually opened, with 2,633 prisoners. Initially, prisoners with life sentences who had single cells at Graterford would continue to have single cells at Phoenix.[14]


Many prisoners are two to a cell, and most cells have the dimensions 12 ft (3.7 m) by 6 ft (1.8 m).[18] Phoenix has 3,422 beds.[8]

It has inmates convicted of capital murder, many from the Philadelphia area and most of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment but with some under death sentences, housed in a dedicated section of the prison, called the "Capital Unit." That section is larger than the previous capital case section that was in Graterford.

The PADOC stated that the prison hoped to move inmates with death sentences from SCI Greene, where most death row and capital murder inmates in Pennsylvania reside, to SCI Phoenix so that the prison system can more easily transport them to court proceedings.[11]

Notable inmates[edit]

  • George Banks, convicted spree killer.[19] Originally sentenced to death, sentence commuted to life in prison on May 12, 2010 after he was declared incompetent to be executed. [20]
  • Bill Cosby, actor, comedian, and formerly convicted sex offender who was released on June 30, 2021 after his conviction was vacated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.[6][21]
  • Eric Frein, ambushed 2 Pennsylvania State Police, murdering Corporal Bryon K. Dickson Jr., in September 2014. Sentenced to death.
  • Melvin Knight, one of the murderers of Jennifer Daugherty. Sentenced to death.[22]
  • Joshua Komisarjevsky, one of two men who committed the infamous Cheshire, Connecticut, home invasion murders. Connecticut inmate incarcerated in Pennsylvania, originally sentenced to death commuted to life in prison after the death penalty was declared unconstitutional by the Connecticut Supreme Court.[23][24] Currently incarcerated in SCI Mahanoy.[25]
  • Joseph Ligon, America's oldest and longest-serving juvenile lifer. Originally sentenced to life in prison without parole, released on February 11, 2021, after the United States Supreme Court declared life sentences without parole for juveniles unconstitutional.[26][27]
  • Harvey Miguel Robinson, serial killer. Sentenced to death.
  • Ricky Smyres, one of the murderers of Jennifer Daugherty. Sentenced to death.[28]
  • Ronald Taylor, spree killer who perpetrated the 2000 Wilkinsburg shooting. Sentenced to death.


  1. ^ "2020 CENSUS - CENSUS BLOCK MAP: Skippack township, PA" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2022-08-01. State Correctional Institution Graterford (the name Graterford is indicated instead of Phoenix)
    Zoning Map. Skippack Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Retrieved on September 26, 2018. "Pennsylvania State Correctional Facility Graterford Prison"
  2. ^ a b "SCI Phoenix." Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 26, 2018. "Facility Address: 1200 Mokychic Drive Collegeville, PA 19426"
  3. ^ a b c Dennis, Marian (2018-06-01). "Officials cut ribbon to Graterford prison replacement — SCI Phoenix". Pottstown Mercury. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  4. ^ Melamed, Samantha. "Pennsylvania's newest, most expensive prison is finally ready - and inmates are dreading it". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  5. ^ a b DeStefano, Joseph (18 April 2016). "Pennsylvania's new prison is as big as the Comcast Center". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b Pradelli, Chad (2018-09-25). "Bill Cosby heads to prison at SCI Phoenix". WPVI-TV. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  7. ^ a b Croft, Jay (2018-09-25). "This is the prison where Cosby will serve: brand new, state of the art -- and maximum security". CNN. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  8. ^ a b Dennis, Marian (2017-11-24). "Graterford prison replacement, SCI Phoenix, is 'state-of-the-art' facility". Pottsville Mercury. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  9. ^ "First look at replacement for aging Graterford prison". WPVI-TV. 2018-06-04. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  10. ^ "Persons Sentenced to Execution in Pennsylvania as of August 1, 2018." Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 26, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Lattanzio, Vince (2013-06-20). "Philadelphia Is Not Building a $400M Prison". WCAU (NBC 10). Retrieved 2018-09-30. - See the diagram which indicates the "capital unit"
  12. ^ "State Prisons." Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 27, 2018.
  13. ^ Map link. Google Maps, SCI Graterford & SCI Phoenix Project. Retrieved 2020-01-28
  14. ^ a b DiStefano, Joseph (2018-07-19). "Phoenix prison is finished, but not full, or fully paid for". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2018-09-27.
  15. ^ "Moving from Graterford to Phoenix." Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 26, 2018.
  16. ^ Moselle, Aaron (2018-05-21). "As Graterford inmates move to new prison, prospect of sharing cells worries some". WHYY. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  17. ^ Allyn, Bobby (2018-03-23). "June opening expected for Graterford replacement prison in Montgomery County". WHYY. Retrieved 2020-01-28.
  18. ^ Allyn, Bobby (2018-09-26). "With Bill Cosby in prison, what's next?". WHYY. Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  19. ^ "Inmate/Parolee Locator".
  20. ^ Michael R. Sisak (Staff Writer). "Judge: Banks incompetent, can't be executed". The Times-Tribune. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  21. ^ Bowley, Graham (2021-06-30). "Bill Cosby Freed as Court Overturns His Sex Assault Conviction". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-06-30.
  22. ^ "Inmate/Parolee Locator".
  23. ^ Pete Williams. "Connecticut Supreme Court Overturns Death Penalty in State". NBC News. Archived from the original on August 13, 2015. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  24. ^ Mark Berman (August 13, 2015). "Connecticut Supreme Court says the death penalty is unconstitutional and bans executions for inmates on death row". Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 15, 2015. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  25. ^ "Inmate Details".
  26. ^ "Inmate/Parolee Locator".
  27. ^ "Eligible for parole after 64 years in prison, world's oldest juvenile lifer deserves no more breaks, Pa. Court says". 28 March 2019.
  28. ^ "Inmate/Parolee Locator".

External links[edit]