Community groups rally against prison profiteers
March from Occupy Philly to company managing prison expansion
Philadelphia: As Occupy Philly approaches its first week at City Hall, part of a national wave of protests against corporate greed, local groups turn the focus toward companies profiting from prison expansion. On Wednesday, October 12, at 3 p.m. Decarcerate PA will lead a march from the Occupy Philly encampment at City Hall to the Philadelphia offices of Hill International to protest the company’s role in new prison construction in Pennsylvania.
Hill has been chosen to manage the construction of two new prisons on the grounds of SCI Graterford in Montgomery County. The Graterford expansion will double the current size of the prison at a projected cost of $400 million. In addition to adding more beds, the proposed new prison will include a new 100 bed death row and a unit for women prisoners. The two new Graterford prisons are part of a $685 million plan to expand prisons across the state.
“Hill exemplifies the greed that has brought thousands of people out to City Hall, tens of thousands of people out to Wall Street, and countless others across the country to challenge the stranglehold that corporations have on everyday people,” said Erika Slaymaker, a member of Decarcerate PA.
Hill International is a multinational corporation based in Marlton, NJ, that manages construction projects all over the world at the behest of the U.S. military, the World Bank, and private companies. They have build dozens of jails, prisons, courthouses and detention centers across the United States and will receive $14 million from the state of Pennsylvania to manage the construction of the Montgomery County prisons. Wednesday marks the final day in which Hill will receive bids from contractors hoping to build the prisons.
These new prisons come at the expense of Pennsylvania’s essential public services, especially schools. Governor Corbett’s controversial budget slashed education funding by almost $1 billion, according to the Education Law Center.
“Hill International is colluding with Corbett to lock up young people rather than provide the jobs and educational opportunities we need,” said Sarah Small, another Decarcerate PA member.
In August, more than 300 people staged a rally outside Hill’s office at the Graham Building skyscraper on 15th and Chestnut streets. Decarcerate PA then presented Hill with a community reinvestment bid calling for quality schools, jobs and job training, community based reentry, health care and food access, stable housing and restorative forms of justice.