A Prisoner’s Statement against the Expansion of PA’s Prison System

My name is James Hough and I’ve been imprisoned for almost two decades for a crime I committed as a juvenile. While I’ve been here I’ve watched the prison population grow larger, younger, and browner (as if wasn’t brown enuff!). I’ve witnessed the prison rip families and communities apart by transferring prisoners hundreds of miles away from loved ones. I’ve seen the economic burden that prisoners’ families and friends must endure – the “prison tax” – for cheap and unreliable services, such as the expensive, long-distance phone calls and high travel/visitation rates.

However, those pale in comparison to what I consider to be the vilest aspect of this prison behemoth: the psychological torture inflicted daily to break the spiritual will of the imprisoned. Instead of becoming rehabilitated advocates for personal and social transformation, many of these tortured minds become more fearful, docile and semi-childlike under the authority of slave master-ish correctional officers. These “invisible prison scars” are apparent in the high recidivist rates and high levels of violence in brown/urban communities by participants with direct ties to the current prison system.

With new prison construction underway in Pennsylvania, we can only expect more taxpayer debt, more cutting of education budgets, and more young brown bodies (male and female) to be dehumanized in Pennsylvania prisons. To ALL within eye and ear of my words, I beg you to get involved in the struggle to dismantle this prison system by educating, agitating and organizing against it.