For Immediate Release: September 18, 2012
Massive Protest Planned for Corbett’s Philly Visit
Groups demand Corbett fund education and General Assistance, not prison construction
Philadelphia, PA: Hundreds are expected to protest on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Wednesday, September 18, from 7:30-9:30pm, while Governor Corbett speaks inside. The rally will highlight Governor Corbett’s failed policies and demand that he cancel his $685 million prison expansion plan, reinstate General Assistance, and fully fund public education.
“Many people living with HIV depend on GA for copayments and for rent if they are in a drug recovery program,” said ACT UP Philly member Leon Tyer. “By ending GA, Governor Corbett has put the nail in the coffin for them, and by building more prisons rather than focusing on education, he is condemning them into even more vulnerable positions. For me, it is very personal because I nearly died in prison because of a lack of medical care. I don’t want anyone else to go through that.”The rally—endorsed by Fight for Philly, ACT UP Philadelphia, and Decarcerate PA—will illustrate how the governor’s priorities keep Pennsylvania prisons bloated at the expense of community needs across the state. Challenging the massive cuts to education, advocates point out that Philadelphia currently spends approximately $150,000 to educate one child from kindergarten through senior year, while the state would spend $330,000 to incarcerate the same person for just ten years.
“What message are elected officials sending our young people when they say there is no money to keep schools open, but they can find $685 million to build new prisons?” inquires Josh Glenn of Decarcerate PA. “Governor Corbett has the power to cancel these prisons and create a better future for Pennsylvania’s young people.”
The 2012-2013 budget completely eliminates General Assistance and fails to restore last year’s $840 million cut to public education, yet continues to fund the $685 million plan to build two new prisons in Montgomery County and a third in Centre County. These new prisons—along with the expansions of nine existing facilities—will add over 5,000 beds to the state prison system even as Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel has set a goal of reducing the prison population by approximately 5,000 people over the next five years.
“Why is Corbett eliminating school funding and low-cost programs that really help many of the truly needy?” asks Eric Alick, a West Philadelphia community member of Fight for Philly. “Instead of cutting services and education, he should end special interest tax breaks and close tax loopholes.”
The protest is part of a growing campaign against the controversial prison expansions. The campaign calls on Governor Corbett to cancel the construction while he still can and to reinvest those tax dollars in schools, social services, and other institutions that strengthen communities.
Decarcerate PA is a grassroots campaign working to end mass incarceration in Pennsylvania. We demand that PA stop building prisons, reduce the prison population, and reinvest money in our communities.
Fight for Philly is building a grassroots coalition of residents, community groups, neighborhood associations, faith organizations and labor groups united in the fight for good jobs, corporate accountability and strong communities.