Decarcerate PA rallied today near City Hall to announce a march to Harrisburg demanding that Gov. Tom Corbett and the legislature cut prison funding and invest in education and social services.
“A lot of legislators talk the talk about all the things they’re going to do," said Decarcerate PA’s Joshua Glenn, describing the 113-mile trek. "But when they’re in office, they never do it. We’re walking the walk to show legislators how serious we are about ending mass incarceration."
Philadelphia, PA –Decarcerate PA and a diverse coalition of supporting organizations announced today that they will march over a hundred miles from Philadelphia to Harrisburg to demand a budget that invests in Pennsylvania’s communities and not in unnecessary, unwanted prison construction. In order to emphasize their call for smarter funding priorities, speakers “broke ground” on a better Pennsylvania.
“It’s outrageous that over $400 million is being poured into building new prisons while twenty-three schools in Philadelphia are being closed due to budget cuts. Legislators and Governor Corbett are hurting students across the state with these broken funding priorities” said Azeem Hill of the Philadelphia Student Union.
It is disheartening to see that Pennsylvania’s legislators are again looking to harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws as an answer to gun violence in Philadelphia (Philadelphia Inquirer, April 5). Mandatory sentencing dramatically increases the number of people in prison, even as countless studies have shown it does nothing to deter crime.
Schwenksville, PA – On Wednesday, April 10th, seven members of the grassroots campaign Decarcerate PA will go to court to face criminal charges for their participation in a civil disobedience at the construction site of two new prisons being built in Montgomery County. This protest was the first ever act of civil disobedience to block prison construction in Pennsylvania.
Early in the morning on November 19, seven protestors blocked the construction access road with school desks, notebooks, a “little red schoolhouse,” and their own bodies, halting construction of the $400 million prison expansion project for over an hour. The schoolhouse imagery highlighted the disparity between the governor’s decision to continue spending $685 million on prison construction statewide while slashing funding for education by over a billion dollars.
During the last three decades, the Commonwealth's prison population exploded by 500 percent to 51,000. Consequently, more Pennsylvanians live behind bars than reside in Harrisburg or Altoona. One in 200 adults is locked up, a number that makes no one happy.