A Graterford State Prison construction project is being re-designed to include a Capital Case Unit, commonly known as Death Row. Department of Corrections Deputy Press Secretary Sue Bensinger says many inmates facing execution make several court appearances for appeals, even after being sentenced to death, and housing them near where they committed their crimes makes sense.
“It is very expensive to transport capital case inmates outside the walls of the facility due to the heavy security that is needed. If we house them in the very western part of the state, and we need to transport them back to Graterford every time they need to go back to court it is very expensive, so this will be logistically a better plan.”
She says the state can save a lot of money on transportation alone by housing more Death Row inmates at Graterford, but no one has estimated the dollar amount. That will be determined during the re-design process. The revised plans will also include a stand-alone unit for women. Bensinger says it will be the state’s first unit for women transitioning back into society, and the southeast is the most logical place to build it because most of the women in state prison are from Philadelphia and the suburban counties.
“Many of these females are mothers who are hours away from Philadelphia. It’s hard to maintain that connection with their friends and family, so really what we’re looking at is to assist them in their re-entry to reduce their recidivism rate. It’s just a positive thing for them to re-engage in society.”
Bensinger says inmates will be moved to the women’s transitional unit six months before their release, and it will have programs to help them change their criminal behavior and their criminal way of thinking before they return to society.