Robert Saleem Holbrook : IF YOU BUILD IT, WE WILL COME

Robert Saleem Holbrook is a politicized prisoner at SCI Coal Township serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole that he received as a juvenile. He is an active member of the Human Rights Coalition, and a prolific writer on prisons and other political issues.  In addition to fighting his own case, he is a fierce advocate against JLWOP sentencing in general.  To read more of Saleem's writings or learn more about his case, go to  This statement was written for our February 20th rally outside of Heery, International. 

The corporation behind us does not see the prisoners that will occupy its $300 million atrocity as human beings, but rather as human profit and capital. And therefore, it will not stick around to hear the cries of brutality, humiliation and injustice that will echo throughout its gleaming prison – ironically named SCI-Phoenix. However, unlike the Phoenix, the mythical bird that resurrects itself from its own ashes, the prison that this corporation will build, in alliance with the morally bankrupt state government of Pennsylvania, will stand as a monstrosity on the landscape of Pennsylvania. Another massive warehouse of humans added to its current collection of human warehouses across the state which confine over 50,000 people today – people who have been reduced to numbers and statistics that are the raw capital in the unholy alliance between the state and corporations that defines the modern Prison Industrial Complex.

In building this prison, the state government and Heery International are operating on the principal of “if you build it, they will come” – that is, more prisoners will come to fill its beds, cells, isolation chambers, holes, etc. and more guards will be hired to control its cell blocks, yards, and other features of life behind prison walls. It is OUR hope, however, that with its construction will come instead more radical prisoners, more prisoner activists, more prison writers and more rebellious prisoners in general who will help expose the injustice that goes on in these human warehouses. And it is OUR hope that more activists and protesters on the outside will turn out to continue protesting and exposing the injustice, brutality and humiliation that accompanies the construction of each new prison. If you build it, WE will come!

In solidarity,

Robert Saleem Holbrook