October 17, 2016
Attn: News Desk
For Immediate Release
Advocates Rally & Sing Against ‘Death by Incarceration’
House Bill 2135 would end Life Without Parole
HARRISBURG, PA -- On Tuesday October 18th, over 200 people, led by the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration (CADBI), will gather at the State Capitol to demand that all imprisoned people in Pennsylvania have a meaningful opportunity for parole.
More than 5,000 people in Pennsylvania have been sentenced to die in prison, due to mandatory minimum “Death By Incarceration” sentencing, more commonly known as Life Without Parole. PA House Bill 2135, introduced by State Representative Jason Dawkins of Philadelphia, would ensure parole eligibility for people serving life sentences after fifteen years.
“In Pennsylvania, all life sentences are imposed without the possibility of parole,” said State Representative Jason Dawkins. “Not only is this an injustice to those who are incarcerated and have demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation, it also is fiscally irresponsible to require taxpayers to foot the bill for sentences that are longer than necessary. I introduced HB 2135 to give the over 5,000 people serving life sentences an opportunity to make their case to the parole board.”
At 11:30 AM, after making visits to individual legislators’ offices, the activists will gather on the steps of the state capital for a musical rally. Speakers will include family members of those serving Death By Incarceration sentences, people who have lost loved ones to violence, and Rep. Dawkins. CADBI members will then head back inside and tour the capitol singing about abolishing Death By Incarceration sentences.
The day of action was planned in collaboration with incarcerated CADBI members. “Isn't it ironic that we call death behind bars ‘life’?” commented Felix Rosado, who is currently serving a Death By Incarceration sentence at SCI Graterford. “Death By Incarceration is a cancellation of the distinct human capacity to be redeemed. It strips too many people of the opportunity to participate in the healing our communities desperately need."
CADBI members point out that Death By Incarceration disproportionately impacts poor people and people of color, worsening the disparities of an already patently unequal criminal justice system while doing nothing to improve public safety.
“Denying anyone the right to transformation and redemption is an affront to everyone’s humanity,” said Patricia Vickers of the Human Rights Coalition and Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration. “We’re going to Harrisburg to demand that Pennsylvania reverse these unjust, unhealthy, and expensive policies, and we will keep coming back until we see real change.”
The Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration works to end death by incarceration (aka “life without parole”) sentences in Pennsylvania. The coalition’s anchoring organizations include Decarcerate PA, Fight for Lifers, The Human Rights Coalition, and Right to Redemption. The rally is also cosponsored by the Interfaith Coalition for the Moral Revolution, Media Mobilizing Project, Books Through Bars, and the Women Lifers Resume Project.