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Moving from Graterford to Phoenix

The relocation of inmates from SCI Graterford to SCI Phoenix​ began on July 11, 2018. SCI Graterford CLOSED at 5:42 p.m. on July 15, 2018.

Video Messages...

Secretary John Wetzel - EDS Shirley Moore Smeal - EDS Shirley Moore Smeal Q & A

Helpful Information...

SCI Phoenix Fact Sheet  (Word)

Questions and Answers with Executive Deputy Secretary Shirley Moore Smeal (Word)

07/15/2018 Update:

The last bus leaves SCI Graterford...


5:47 update:

As of 5:42 p.m. SCI Graterford is CLOSED.

GRA - 7-15-2018 last bus leaving GRA around 1730 hours.jpg

This last busload of inmates leaves SCI Graterford.

2 p.m. update: SCI Phoenix has now taken control of the Outside Service Unit (OSU) from SCI Graterford. Both facilities continue to operate under a limited state of emergency.

The move from Graterford to Phoenix has resumed. Here's a picture to hold you over until we have time to process and upload photos taken yesterday:

PHX moving into the west side of the prison 7-14-2018.jpg

Inmates are now moving into the west side of the facility - SCI Phoenix has essentially two prisons - East and West -- that are separated by centrally-shared areas such as food services, work, education, treatment, etc.

More photos of the move from July 14, 2018, have been posted below in the photo section, which is now located at the right.

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07/14/2018 Update:

9 p.m. update... We ended today's move with an SCI Phoenix inmate population of 2,063. Great job, Everyone!

Good morning, the transition of inmates from Graterford to Phoenix resumes this morning.

Info for families and friends about phones: Family’s receiving phone calls from Phoenix inmates will now be from an 866 number. (GRA’s number was different). Also the message did change from GRA to PHX.

Soon we will update this page with pictures taken yesterday. Please check back after 9 a.m. - it takes a while to upload images.

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07/13/2018 Update:

We end the third day of the transition with an inmate population of 1,437 at SCI Phoenix.

07/13/2018 Interview with Secretary Wetzel:

Earlier today, Secretary Wetzel was interviewed by Reading Eagle reporter Holly Herman. Here are some key points they discussed:

The move is on schedule and we expect to be finished by early next week.

There have been no major issues.

Feedback from the inmates is that they are pleased with the environment – air conditioning is something they didn't have at Graterford, and the prison is brighter.


GRA - E Block 7-11-2018.jpgSCI Graterford E Block

 PHX - housing unit - from dedication june 1 2018.JPG

A housing unit at SCI Phoenix.

Wetzel said staff is doing a great job communicating with inmates – as this is a significant change for them too. They have provided the menu and FAQs for inmates via the inmate TV channel.

Wetzel said, "Our focus is on keeping the buses rolling. We started slow due to the fact that we moved the higher-risk inmates first, but now we are moving general population inmates, so we should see the pace increase."

Wetzel said staff has been doing a great job, and he especially mentioned Superintendent Tammy Ferguson; the DOC's head of security Major Ken Goodman, who's been leading this entire planning and implementation since day one; and Executive Deputy Secretary for Institutional Operations Tabb Bickell.

"This has been a combination of our outstanding folks doing a great job," Wetzel said.

When asked about any issues Wetzel said, "We've had minimal issues with contraband – almost none so far. Staff did a great job over the past several months helping inmates to reduce their property."

When asked about the delay in opening Wetzel said, "People have no idea the amount of planning and timing that went into this move. Timing was about when it would be convenient for everyone involved and to avoid the July 4th holiday vacation season and other major events happening in that area that would have tied up hotel rooms we needed to house the 250 to 300 extra DOC staffers that have come to the prisons to assist with the move. There's no sense looking back. Two years from now, no one's going to care that we didn't open the prison by June 30, 2018."

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07/12/2018 Update:

As of 7:45 p.m. on July 12, the inmate population at SCI Phoenix was 815.

Highlights from today’s move (day two) are:

-SCI Graterford remains locked down.

-At both prisons, inmates are being fed in their cells.

-Each day inmates are being provided with a bag breakfast, bag lunch and hot dinner. An evening snack bag also is provided.

-At both prisons, medicine delivery is being provided to inmates at their cells.

-Once inmates have been assessed, they are offered access to phones, showers and indoor recreation.

-Visiting days and times will remain the same as they were at Graterford; however, visits are cancelled until further notice.

-Visiting days/times can be obtained on the DOC’s website.

-The mailing address for Phoenix remains the same as it was at Graterford, except instead of Graterford, PA, the city is now Collegeville, PA. 

-Each facility has a page on the DOC’s website – here is Phoenix’s page.

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On 7/11/2018, 185 inmates were successfully moved.

PHX command center 7-12-2018.jpg

This is the command center at SCI Phoenix.

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07/11/2018 5 p.m. update:

At approximately 9:15 a.m. SCI Graterford was locked down so the move to SCI Phoenix could begin.

The entire prison property is off limits.

There are no visits.

Graterford's inmate population today is 2,648, 20 of which are capital case (death row) inmates.

The first group of inmates were moved at approximately 12:20 p.m.

Higher risk inmates, such as capital case inmates, parole violators, those housed in the infirmary and those under special observation were being moved first.

Initially inmates were moved by van in groups of four or five per van.  The facility has a range of vehicles - cars, vans, buses  -- to use.

Inmates were in normal transport security restraints.

The distance between SCI Graterford and SCI Phoenix is .25 miles.

How the move works:

Graterford inmates are locked in their cells and will remain so until the move is completed. Inmates will be fed in their cells - a bag meal for breakfast, a bag meal for lunch and a hot meal for dinner. They also will be given a snack enhanced bag at dinner.

Here's the menu:


Today, inmates had their regular breakfast and lunch before the move began, so for dinner tonight they had a hot dinner.

Inmates and their property are taken to outgoing processing areas. Inmates are shown that their electronic property, such as TV, are working properly at the time of the move. The inmates then are taken to be searched and restrained and then are placed on the transport vehicle. At arrival at Phoenix, the inmates are shown that their electronics work.  The inmates are placed in their cells and their property is given to them shortly thereafter.

Inmate phones are operational at SCI Phoenix.

Once the inmates are placed in their cells and assessed, they will be given limited opportunities, such as using the phone system.

We are not saying how many inmates will be moved each day, but the goal is to move several hundred.

We are not saying how long the entire operation will take. It will take as long as is necessary to have a smooth, successful move.

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Initial News Release

Department of Corrections Begins Transferring Employees, Inmates from SCI Graterford to SCI Phoenix

Collegeville, PA (July 11, 2018) – At 9:15 AM, Department of Corrections officials locked down SCI Graterford to begin the relocation of employees and inmates from the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Graterford to SCI Phoenix. DOC officials plan to move several hundred inmates each day, and they will continue the transition for however long it takes to complete the operation.

"Employees and inmates have been waiting patiently for this move to take place," said Corrections Secretary John Wetzel. "We are aware of the anxiety that this move has caused everyone, and we have worked diligently to plan for every aspect and to ensure that the transition is smooth for everyone involved."

The DOC uses an incident command system to manage situations, and command centers have been opened at the DOC's central office, Graterford and Phoenix.

The entire prison grounds are off limits to everyone, and a secure perimeter has been established thanks to assistance from other state prison staff and the Pennsylvania State Police.

The DOC will hold daily press briefings to inform everyone about the progress of the transition.

In addition, individuals are asked to follow the transition on the DOC's website at and on Facebook (Pennsylvania Department of Corrections) and Twitter @CorrectionsPA.

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