Roughly 50 anti-prison activists are on the last leg of a protest march from Philadelphia to Harrisburg. Decarcerate PA will rally at the state Capitol Monday to decry the $400 million construction of two new prisons in Montgomery County set to replace an older facility in 2015.
Marching with the group is Malissa Gamble, who said she spent 15 months in a state prison for burglary and "a host of other crimes" a decade ago. She says more than new facilities, the state needs better prison programs on parenting, job training, and housing to help inmates transition back into their communities.
Exhausted after walking from Pottstown to Reading on Wednesday, Melissa Gamble took time to discuss why she was marching from Philadelphia to Harrisburg to protest planned construction of two new state prisons.
"I'm marching for women who are incarcerated and have little hope," she said during a stopover in Reading. "I was once one of them waiting in prison for help that never came."
Protesters gather outside Montgomery County Courthouse during a rally organized by Decarcerate PA May 26. Photo by TONY FIORIGLIO
With chants of “Educate, don’t incarcerate,” Decarcerate PA, DreamActivist PA and local citizens gathered on the steps of the Montgomery County Courthouse May 26 to urge the local government to “Invest in the Future, Not Fear!” according to a press release from Decarcerate PA.
Dozens of protesters with Decarcerate PA lined the intersection of Route 29 and Main Street in Collegeville on Monday while marching to Harrisburg to object to the state's expanding prison system.
"Educate, don't incarcerate, decarcerate PA," was chanted from the side of the street, while a woman with a sound system explained the goals of the march - to tell legislators to fund education, not the prison system.
Decarcerate PA, an anti-prison activist group, has organized a 10-day march from Philadelphia to Harrisburg beginning Saturday, and will spend the weekend walking through Norristown and Collegeville to Pottstown, stopping for a protesting to end prison expansions along the way.
The 113-mile trek has been labeled the “March for a People’s Budget: Stop the Prison Expansion Now!,” and will begin Saturday at noon with a rally in Love Park.
On Sunday, June 2nd, about two dozen opponents of prison expansion will arrive in Harrisburg as part of their ten-day march from Philadelphia to Harrisburg. The march is being organized by Decarcerate PA, a grassroots coalition, and is co-sponsored by a broad alliance of community groups, nonprofits, labor organizations, education advocates, and formerly incarcerated organizers. The “March for a People’s Budget: Stop Prison Expansion Now!” began on May 25th.