After corporations, with the assistance of the state, have spent decades processing coal and dumping coal ash on the site, many people in the prison – including prisoners, prison guards, and people in the surrounding community – have become sick. Our preliminary year-long investigation of health symptoms among prisoners revealed a strong indication of negative health impacts from exposure to coal ash, due to the clusters and prevalence of symptoms consistent with exposure. (Results reported in “No Escape: Exposure to Toxic Coal Waste at State Correctional Institute Fayette.”)
A number of organizations whose membership includes loved ones of people incarcerated at SCI Fayette have come together around this issue, including the Human Rights Coalition (HRC), Abolitionist Law Center (ALC), Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ), and Put People First (PPF). We believe that it is critical to build power together across different communities in the fight to win justice for the people who have been harmed, and to prevent any others from being imprisoned physically and economically in an unsafe, toxic place.
Currently, ALC is spearheading a comprehensive health survey sent to all 2,000 plus prisoners at SCI Fayette. HRC has launched a petition drive calling on Governor Wolf to authorize a special investigation into the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Environmental Protection for their handling of the health problems in the prison and the surrounding community. Recently, family members from across the state and residents of LaBelle, who are suffering from some of the same health consequences as the prisoners, had an opportunity to come together.
If you are interested in learning more about the issue, want to get involved, or want to refer a loved one on the outside to any of these organizations, please write to:
Human Rights Coalition
5129 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
If you have previously been incarcerated at SCI Fayette, or are currently at SCI Fayette, and would like to participate in the anonymous health survey as a part of our ongoing investigation, please write to:
Abolitionist Law Center
P.O. Box 8654
Pittsburgh, PA 15221