STATEMENT IN OPPOSITION TO PENNSYLVANIA’S PRISON EXPANSION

KERRY SHAKABOONA MARSHALL, Human Rights and Social Activist

Greetings Everyone!

My name is Shakaboona. I am a wrongly convicted prisoner with a juvenile life sentence, who has been incarcerated for a quarter of a century now. However, I have not allowed my incarceration to define me or prevent me from struggling for human rights and social justice for all. I have championed the cause of obtaining our inalienable human rights to be free from poverty, war, racism, sexism, and to have social justice for all oppressed people, despite my imprisonment.

My socio-political activism over the past 25 years has taught me some valuable lessons in life. One lesson in particular that I would like share with everyone is in the form of a simple advice: that which you do not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn – or be forced – to accept.

We must begin to fully understand that there is a for-profit, billion dollar market for the mass incarceration of human beings that operates behind the mask of “Law and Order” in our society, and which necessitates the ever expansion of the prison system in Pennsylvania, in the United States, and throughout the world.

In Pennsylvania, Decarcerate PA has challenged Governor Corbett and his Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel for their continuation of a decades old plan of prison expansion – carried out by both Republican and Democratic party politicians – that shamelessly uses citizens’ tax dollars to pay for the costs of constructing new prisons, while simultaneously and contrarily defunding public schools in Philadelphia and claiming with a straight face that there is no money available.

Governor Corbett and Corrections Secretary Wetzel are attempting to force the people of Pennsylvania to accept the defunding and privatization of public schools; to accept their use of citizens’ tax dollars to fund the expansion of new prisons; to accept a “schools-to-prisons pipeline” policy; and to accept a multi-billion dollar market for the mass incarceration of poor, disenfranchised people whom the government deems expendable and exploitable.

However, Decarcerate PA is an organization that is on the side of people and public safety over profit, and it is showing everyone how to resist and mobilize to stop corporate Tom Corbett and his wingman in Corrections Secretary Wetzel from using taxpayer dollars to expand the prison system while he cuts funding for the social services needed by the people. Decarcerate PA, along with the people of Pennsylvania, will not learn – or be forced – to accept the “unacceptable” policy of prison expansion by the Republican and Democratic political establishment of Pennsylvania.

A change from this direction will not occur by crying to the Republican and Democratic politicians; it will only occur by the people taking to the streets in protest and demanding change. We must join Decarcerate PA to engage in street activism, form coalitions with like-minded organizations, organize the families of prisoners and member of the community, mobilize the 350,000 ex-felons in Philadelphia who are allowed to vote, form a Voters’ Bloc to influence the outcome of elections and change candidates’ policies, wage political action campaigns against politicians who are pushing for prison expansion, and never learn – or be forced – to accept that which we know is unacceptable.

Peace and blessing to you all.

Your brother in struggle,

Shakaboona