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.
About two dozen protesters rallied outside a police substation before marching through Allentown this afternoon to send authorities and residents the message they won't let the city become "another Ferguson."
As Gov. Tom Corbett made a spectacle last week of his own priorities for next year's budget, he seemed increasingly desperate to make good on unfulfilled promises.
The same could be said of his efforts at prison reform. For the fourth year in a row, Corbett pushed through a budget that significantly increases funding for Pennsylvania's prison system, sending an additional $78 million to the Department of Corrections.
It is heartening to see that the U.S. Supreme Court and counties around Pennsylvania are finally recognizing that mandatory minimums are unconstitutional and ineffective ("Pa. mandatory minimums seen in flux," July 8). Mandatory minimums do not reduce crime or recidivism, they are overly punitive, and they do not take into consideration individual circumstances. Such sentences add thousands of people to an already out-of-control prison system at a time when the state cannot afford to build more prisons.