0 in By Josh Fatzick / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- A group of about 40 activists calling for a moratorium on new prison funding, left Philadelphia on Saturday on a nine-day-long march to Harrisburg for what it calls "a people's budget, not a prison budget."
Members of Decarcerate PA, a grass-roots organization with an eclectic group of protesters that include former prisoners, family members of current prisoners and students whose schools are being closed due to budget cuts, planned the march to bring awareness to cuts in education funding and to protest the construction of two new prisons outside Philadelphia in Montgomery County.
Written by Damon C. Williams Thursday, 06 June 2013 12:04
Increased education funding and the deceleration of prison expansion statewide were the two major themes of pro-education, pro-prison reform group Decarcerate PA as it concluded a 100-mile march to the state capitol to hand-deliver their demands.
Decarcerate PA’s movement comes as Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has eliminated roughly a billion dollars from the education budget while looking for extra funds to build several new prisons.
Several dozen marchers joined by their belief in criminal justice reforms and a state budget focused more on education and human services wrapped up an eight-day, 113-mile march across Pennsylvania with a raucous rally on the state Capitol steps this afternoon.
Opponents of prison expansion rally on the steps of the state Capitol. The group includes participants in a ten day march from Philadelphia to the Capitol, organized by Decarcerate PA. They are demanding that the General Assembly take a stand against Pennsylvania's prison growth.
Organized by the group "Decarcerate PA," the marchers called on Gov. Tom Corbett to increase funding for public schools - particularly cash-strapped, inner city schools - mental health services and public welfare programs.
Activists calling for an end to prison construction arrived in Harrisburg Monday morning after a 100-mile march from Philadelphia to protest the state's $400 million project at the former State Correctional Institute at Graterford in Montgomery County.
Roughly 50 anti-prison activists are on the last leg of a protest march from Philadelphia to Harrisburg. Decarcerate PA will rally at the state Capitol Monday to decry the $400 million construction of two new prisons in Montgomery County set to replace an older facility in 2015.
Marching with the group is Malissa Gamble, who said she spent 15 months in a state prison for burglary and "a host of other crimes" a decade ago. She says more than new facilities, the state needs better prison programs on parenting, job training, and housing to help inmates transition back into their communities.
Exhausted after walking from Pottstown to Reading on Wednesday, Melissa Gamble took time to discuss why she was marching from Philadelphia to Harrisburg to protest planned construction of two new state prisons.
"I'm marching for women who are incarcerated and have little hope," she said during a stopover in Reading. "I was once one of them waiting in prison for help that never came."
Protesters gather outside Montgomery County Courthouse during a rally organized by Decarcerate PA May 26. Photo by TONY FIORIGLIO
With chants of “Educate, don’t incarcerate,” Decarcerate PA, DreamActivist PA and local citizens gathered on the steps of the Montgomery County Courthouse May 26 to urge the local government to “Invest in the Future, Not Fear!” according to a press release from Decarcerate PA.