Philadelphians demand answers on mass incarceration from PA’s next Governor

Press Contact: 

Contact: Thomas Dichter (267) 217-3372

For Immediate Release: September 30, 2014
Attn: News Desk

Philadelphia PA - At 7:30 am on October 1st, people from across the city are expected to gather outside the KYW Studios at 1555 Hamilton Street, where Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and gubernatorial hopeful Tom Wolf will meet for a breakfast debate. While some attendees will be there to support a specific candidate, many are coming to demand answers from Pennsylvania’s next Governor no matter who wins in November.

Decarcerate PA, a grassroots campaign working to end mass incarceration in Pennsylvania, will be there to make sure prison issues are on both candidates’ agendas. “Pennsylvania locks over 51,000 people behind bars, but neither candidate has spoken to how they would meaningfully reduce the prison population,” explained Candace McKinley of Decarcerate PA. “Under Corbett’s watch, the state corrections budget has surpassed $2 billion, one new prison has opened, and two more are under construction. But Wolf has not said one word about what, if anything, he would do to reverse course.”

Mobilizing under the banner of “schools, not prisons,” Decarcerate PA, the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP), Fight for Philly, the Philly Student Union, and Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild (POWER), will all be assembled to demand real change.

Protestors point to Corbett’s massive cuts to education funding as a major driver of mass incarceration. “We want an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and the first step to do that is to fund schools not prisons,” said Brian Burney, a member of the Philadelphia Student Union and an 11th grader at Benjamin Franklin High School, which is coincidentally across the street from where the action will be taking place.

Other event organizers point to the need for adequate health care, services for people living with HIV/AIDS, job opportunities, and environmental protections across the state.

“Massive disinvestment from public education and social services, combined with aggressive policing and harsh sentencing laws, has funneled thousands of people--mostly people of color and poor and working class people--into prisons across the state,” said Decarcerate PA’s Annie Re. “It’s time that Corbett and Wolf tell us how they plan to stop these injustices.”


Decarcerate PA is a grassroots campaign working to end mass incarceration in Pennsylvania. We demand that PA stop building prisons, reduce the prison population, and reinvest money in our communities.

Download a pdf of the press release here.