Decarcerate PA Statement on the Direct Action at Graterford prison


Decarcerate PA is determined to stop Governor Corbett from spending $400 million to build two new prisons outside of Philadelphia. These new prisons represent an expansion of mass incarceration in Pennsylvania and a continuation of policies that lock people up instead of giving our communities the resources they need to thrive. The money used to build these prisons is money that is being stolen from our schools, our healthcare, reentry programs, social services, and the environment.

To stop the prison construction in Montgomery County, Decarcerate PA has taken to the streets. We’ve written letters to the governor. We’ve called our elected officials. We’ve interrupted the governor’s town hall meetings to demand a prison moratorium. We’ve publicly called out the Department of Corrections on their lies and misinformation. We’ve raised awareness about the construction through opinion pieces and a social media campaign that was viewed by thousands. And yet the construction continues.

That’s why, this morning, seven members of Decarcerate PA put their bodies on the line to stop the prison construction in Montgomery County. They engaged in this action at the construction site to increase pressure on Governor Corbett and to shine a spotlight on his irresponsible and destructive expansion of Pennsylvania’s prison system.

Decarcerate PA believes that it will take many different tactics to end mass incarceration in Pennsylvania. As a coalition, we understand that the willingness to risk arrest participating in a civil disobedience does not represent a deeper commitment to this vision than the countless other acts of resistance that take place both inside and outside the prison walls every day.

The majority of the people participating in this action are white, are U.S. citizens, and do not have criminal records. Members of Decarcerate PA took part in this action recognizing the ways that race, class privilege, immigration status and people’s previous interactions with the criminal legal system impact their ability to participate in an act of civil disobedience. They also understand that people with family members incarcerated in Pennsylvania’s prison system could risk losing the right to visit with their loved ones by participating in this type of action.

The people absent from this action are a reflection of the communities most targeted by systems of criminalization and mass incarceration. Many members of Decarcerate PA could not risk probation violations, re-incarceration for significant periods of time, deportation, or the inability to visit with loved ones on the inside by taking part in a civil disobedience at this site. We know that one purpose of the prison system is to divide us. We know that another purpose of the prison system is to make the price of resistance extremely high, especially for those already most impacted by mass incarceration.

Decarcerate PA stands behind those who put their bodies on the line to block the construction. We stand together in demanding an end to all prison construction in Pennsylvania. We believe that there are many valuable ways that we can work together to stop mass incarceration in Pennsylvania, and we hope that this action is one of them. When we each participate in the ways we can, we will win.