July 2, 2013 For Immediate ReleaseAttention: News Desk
Harrisburg, PA – Despite statewide opposition, on Sunday, June 30, the Pennsylvania General Assembly approved a budget for FY2013-2014 that provides a $75 million budget increase for the Department of Corrections (DOC). Despite massive protests and hundreds of calls, postcards, and emails from constituents in districts across Pennsylvania, legislators inexplicably gave the state prison system an even larger budget increase than Governor Corbett initially requested.
This expansive increase flies in the face of efforts by grassroots groups like Decarcerate PA, who recently marched from Philadelphia to Harrisburg to demand that the legislature vote no on an increased prison budget, cancel ongoing prison expansion projects, and invest in creating strong communities instead.
On Sunday, June 2nd, about two dozen opponents of prison expansion will arrive in Harrisburg as part of their ten-day march from Philadelphia to Harrisburg. The march is being organized by Decarcerate PA, a grassroots coalition, and is co-sponsored by a broad alliance of community groups, nonprofits, labor organizations, education advocates, and formerly incarcerated organizers. The “March for a People’s Budget: Stop Prison Expansion Now!” began on May 25th.
Philadelphia, PA –Decarcerate PA and a diverse coalition of supporting organizations announced today that they will march over a hundred miles from Philadelphia to Harrisburg to demand a budget that invests in Pennsylvania’s communities and not in unnecessary, unwanted prison construction. In order to emphasize their call for smarter funding priorities, speakers “broke ground” on a better Pennsylvania.
“It’s outrageous that over $400 million is being poured into building new prisons while twenty-three schools in Philadelphia are being closed due to budget cuts. Legislators and Governor Corbett are hurting students across the state with these broken funding priorities” said Azeem Hill of the Philadelphia Student Union.
Schwenksville, PA – On Wednesday, April 10th, seven members of the grassroots campaign Decarcerate PA will go to court to face criminal charges for their participation in a civil disobedience at the construction site of two new prisons being built in Montgomery County. This protest was the first ever act of civil disobedience to block prison construction in Pennsylvania.
Early in the morning on November 19, seven protestors blocked the construction access road with school desks, notebooks, a “little red schoolhouse,” and their own bodies, halting construction of the $400 million prison expansion project for over an hour. The schoolhouse imagery highlighted the disparity between the governor’s decision to continue spending $685 million on prison construction statewide while slashing funding for education by over a billion dollars.
Anger over “broken priorities” as the governor announces proposed budget
For Immediate Release: February 6, 2013
Harrisburg, PA: People from community groups across the state are responding with frustration to Governor Corbett’s budget address, calling the proposed budget a prime example of the Governor’s “broken priorities,” which have continued to increase spending on prisons while underfunding basic education and community resources.
Philadelphia, PA: Hundreds are expected to protest outside the Academy of Natural Sciences on Thursday, January 31, while Governor Corbett speaks with the Chamber of Commerce inside.The rally will highlight Governor Corbett’s failed policies, demanding that he cancel his $685 million prison expansion plan and fully fund public education and social services.
Philadelphia, PA – Caving to public pressure to curb the growth of Pennsylvania’s bloated prison system, Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel announced on Wednesday that the DOC will be shuttering two old state prisons and transferring prisoners to a new 2,000-bed facility in Benner Township this year. Secretary Wetzel claims that the closing of SCI Cresson and SCI Greensburg is part of an effort to shut down old prisons and replace them with new “state-of-the-art facilities” at a projected savings of $35 million per year. Organizers from the Philadelphia-based grassroots campaign Decarcerate PA, however, are pointing to the $200 million price tag of the new facility, and calling for real sentencing reform that will enable the state to shut down old prisons without replacing them with expensive new ones.
Civil Disobedience Marks Escalation of Decarcerate PA Campaign
For Immediate Release
Skippack, PA – Early this morning, demonstrators seeking a halt to Governor Corbett’s $685 million prison expansion plan carried out the first-ever civil disobedience protest at a prison construction site in Pennsylvania. Several members of Decarcerate PA, a coalition working to reduce the state’s massive prison population, gathered just before dawn by the construction site of two new prisons at SCI Graterford. Quickly assembling a large “little red schoolhouse” and mock-classroom in front of the site, a number of protesters used their bodies to block the driveway.