For Immediate Release: January 31, 2013
Attn: News Desk
Philadelphia, PA: Hundreds are expected to protest outside the Academy of Natural Sciences on Thursday, January 31, while Governor Corbett speaks with the Chamber of Commerce inside.The rally will highlight Governor Corbett’s failed policies, demanding that he cancel his $685 million prison expansion plan and fully fund public education and social services.
“What message are elected officials sending our young people when they say there is no money to keep schools open, but they can find $685 million to build new prisons?” inquires Josh Glenn of Decarcerate PA and the Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project. “Governor Corbett has the power to cancel these prisons and create a better future for Pennsylvania’s young people.”
The rally—endorsed by Decarcerate PA, Fight for Philly, and Food and Water Watch—will illustrate how the governor’s priorities keep Pennsylvania prisons overfilled at the expense of communities across the state. Challenging the massive cuts to education, advocates point out that Philadelphia spends about $150,000 to educate one child from kindergarten through senior year, while the state would spend $330,000 to incarcerate the same person for just ten years.
“This is the right moment to be protesting Governor Corbett,” said Decarcerate PA’s Layne Mullett. “In anticipation of his annual budget address next week, we want him to know that Pennsylvanians will hold him accountable. The governor should cancel the Montgomery County prison construction and invest that money in education.”
Corbett is currently spending over $400 million to build two new prisons in Montgomery County. In November, members of Decarcerate PA participated in a civil disobedience blocking construction of those two facilities. This construction is the final piece in a $685 million expansion of the state prison system that has also included a 2,000-bed new prison in Centre County and the expansion of nine existing facilities. Despite Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel’s stated goal of reducing the prison population by approximately 5,000 in five years, these new prisons will add thousands of beds to the state prison system.
“We want the Governor to know his budget choices have negative consequences for all Pennsylvanians, especially the most marginalized people in our communities. Instead of investing in prisons, we need to invest in our communities,” said Hakim Ali of Decarcerate PA and Reconstruction, Inc. “If Corbett continues his prison expansion plan, we will literally be able to see—and feel—the effect of his broken priorities across the state.”
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.