City Council urged to decrease jail population and invest in schools, not jail cells
PHILADELPHIA, PA (June 10, 2015) On Thursday, June 11, concerned community members will converge on City Hall to demand that City Council permanently shelve its plan to build a new county jail. They will call on Council to instead take steps to drastically decrease the city’s jail population and direct resources to the city’s severely underfunded school system.
On May 4th, Decarcerate PA and allied organizations will unite on the steps of the Capitol in Harrisburg to celebrate the overturning of an anti-prisoner law and to protest the ongoing silencing of people in Pennsylvania’s prison system. The 24-hour demonstration will kick off with a rally from 11 AM - 2 PM, at which protesters will share the words of current and former prisoners targeted by anti-speech legislation.
Last year, the Daily News reported that guards at the city-run Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility refused to take inmate Mike Brady to the prison infirmary despite pleas that he was sick. After he collapsed, sources told the paper he was maced by guards and finally dragged in a nearly unconscious state to receive medical attention.
At first glance, you can’t blame Mayor Michael Nutterfor wanting to build a new prison. The House of Correction — which has an awesome name — is super old and doesn’t even have air conditioning. Both the inmates and the staffers deserve better conditions than the facility can provide.
Still: Nutter should hold off. Let the next mayor deal with it, if necessary, but not this year.
They fill our prisons at great expense but do little to improve public safety
By James Young and Waleed Shahid
December 17, 2014
Since 1980, Pennsylvania’s prison population increased sixfold to about 51,000 people, thanks in part to state legislation passed during the frenzy of the failed “War on Drugs.” Bipartisan policies passed in Washington and in state capitals have led the United States to house 25 percent of the world’s prisoners despite having only 5 percent of the world’s population. In Pennsylvania, laws requiring mandatory minimum sentencing have been a primary driver of the skyrocketing numbers of prisoners and the enormously expensive prisons that accompanied their tragic rise.
Philadelphia approved all three of the questions on the ballot, including establishing a permanent Office of Sustainability, creating a Department of Prisons and borrowing $137.3 million for infrastructure improvements.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 5:00 am By Samaria Bailey
A group of social activists said they will fight the Revictimization Relief Act recently signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett, because it violates the First Amendment.
The unified announcement during a press conference on Wednesday was organized by The Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, a coalition of human rights and prisoners’ rights organizations and individuals, and included speeches by Suzanne Ross — Free Mumia Coalition (NYC); Patrice Armstead of Building People’s Power; Betsey Piette of Worker’s World newspaper; Layne Mullett of Decarcerate; Pastor Renee McKenzie; Church of the Advocate; Shandre Delaney from Justice for the Dallas 6; Derrick Stanley, a freed member of the Dallas 6; and Ramona Africa, a survivor of the 1985 MOVE bombing."
Seven members of Decarcerate PA, a grassroots coalition working to end mass incarceration in Pennsylvania, were arrested while protesting the construction of a new two-prison complex in that state. The protest was to highlight the $400 million cost to build the facilities, which could be better spent on schools.
To make that point, the protestors set up 10 school-style desks with apples and notebooks across the entrance to the construction site for the prisons, which is on the grounds of SCI Graterford. They also set up a mock schoolhouse in what they said was the “first-ever act of civil disobedience to block prison construction in Pennsylvania.”
Pennsylvania has opened 20 new state prisons in the past 35 years. Next year the DOC is slated to open two more at a cost of $400 million, although opposition to continued prison growth is building across the national political spectrum. The two new prisons, both in Montgomery County, are to be named "Phoenix I and II." But given the economic, public safety, and moral disaster that mass incarceration has proven to be for Pennsylvania, the only thing rising from the ashes is the DOC budget.