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.
For Immediate Release: September 30, 2014 Attn: News Desk
Philadelphia PA - At 7:30 am on October 1st, people from across the city are expected to gather outside the KYW Studios at 1555 Hamilton Street, where Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and gubernatorial hopeful Tom Wolf will meet for a breakfast debate. While some attendees will be there to support a specific candidate, many are coming to demand answers from Pennsylvania’s next Governor no matter who wins in November.
By Alex Vuocolo | Posted on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014
The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons voted on Thursday, August 28, not to grant Avis Lee, who has been imprisoned since she was a teenager, a chance to reduce her sentence of life without parole through the commutation process. Friends and supporters of Lee filed out of the hearing room in the East Wing of the Capital Building in Harrisburg with looks of disbelief.
A small group of protesters rallied at the state capitol Thursday for a loosening of the legal requirements for commutation of a life sentence.
The advocates argued that the 1997 amendment to the state constitution requiring a unanimous recommendation from the state's Board of Pardons as a threshold for clemency has effectively ended mercy for lifers — who by definition have been convicted of murder and can't qualify for regular parole — here.