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.
Coalition charges Governor Corbett and DOC Secretary Wetzel with ‘crimes against Pennsylvanians’
Philadelphia. PA: A coalition of organizers are taking court proceedings to the streets with an elaborate display of street theater designed to shed light on the controversial $685 million expansion of Pennsylvania’s Prison system. Community members will descend on the Municipal Services Building Plaza at 15th St and JFK Boulevard at 4pm on Monday, November 19th, where they will put Governor Corbett and Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel on trial. Over a dozen witnesses are slated to present testimony of the administration’s ‘crimes against Pennsylvanians’, especially the decision to push forward with costly prison expansion while gutting essential services and education funding.
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.”
Pennsylvanians demand an end to two new prisons in Montgomery County
Skippack Township: Community members from Montgomery County and Philadelphia will rally on Tuesday, July 17, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the intersection of Route 29 and Graterford Road to protest the construction of two new prisons on the grounds of SCI Graterford in Montgomery County. Part of a growing campaign against the controversial prison expansions, the demonstration calls on Governor Corbett cancel the construction while still in its early stages and reinvest the remaining tax dollars in institutions that strengthen communities.
“Pennsylvania does not need another prison,” said Sarah Small of Decarcerate PA, a statewide coalition of more than 75 organizations opposing prison construction and supporting policies that reduce the number of people in prison. “Other states are finding ways to reduce their prison populations and close prisons. It’s time Pennsylvania caught up to the rest of the country.”
“Picture This!” campaign illustrates costs of prison expansion
Governor Corbett just signed off on a controversial budget that he says will put the state on a “diet.” But when it comes to prisons, the governor continues to loosen Pennsylvania’s belt.
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—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.