On February 20th the Occupy movement as a whole held a national day of action for the reduction of prison populations and improvement in prison conditions in the United States. Occupy Philly, members of The PA prison society, Decarecrate PA, and community activist from all over Philadelphia gathered at 1717 Arch St. to protest Hill International ltd. who is heading the construction project to expand Graterford state prison.
Protesters held signs saying no more prisons, and other thoughts along the same line, and chanted “Corbett, Corbett you can't hide we can see your greedy side.” There were several speeches giving the current statistics for incarceration in Pennsylvania, stories of conditions in the prison system.
“Inmates have nothing to do, but work at slave wages, watch TV, drink coffee, and go to programs that don't work and often repeat each other. There's no real education in prisons, no way to build yourself up, after they've torn you down,” said Assad Jackson a former felon and now activist in his community.
Governor Corbett has taken millions from education, welfare and other vital resources to fund his prison building initiatives, including from the already failing prison health care system, where in this years budget he took out 21,365 from prisoner medical care and transferred that money over to correctional institutes making the money available for construction costs and leaving prisoners with out proper medical treatment as if they had it before.
It's been said that if you don't have a strong commitment to education then you need to have a strong commitment to incarceration, well this is where the Governor has allied himself in the affairs of the people. He has underfunded to a significant extend both basic and higher education in Pennsylvania and continues to go on a prison building rampage in this state.
Pennsylvania has the highest number of persons in prison per capita in the country, and America has the highest persons incarcerated per capita in the world exceeding even China in this regard. “We have more frivolous laws that require prison sentences than any other country in the world including rouge dictatorial states. We have become a country where the prison industrial system has taken control, our answer to everything has become put them in prison,” said Danielle Finger and artist and political activist with Occupy Philly.
“There are so many problems that feed in to the prison industrial complex in Pennsylvania but the injustice becomes clear when the state spends more on prisons than it does on schools,” said Nate Klienman A Congressional in Philadelphia. “This is just a disaster, if we spent more money on educating our young we wouldn't need as many prison. Most crimes committed are committed out of desperation, some on stealing something to pay a bill, or feed an addiction, and they don't have the education to get the few jobs that free trade has left us with.”
Prisons are a big business, all they're trying to do is make money off the misery of families and the destruction of communities, so how do you do that you make sure the need for the prisons are there you make it illegal to have marijuana, and you arrest kids for having a joint, you over sentence people that can't afford any one other than a public defender, and you plea as many people as you can out even when you know they're innocent of wrong doing or the laws are unjust, Philadelphia Retired police Captain Ray Lewis.
The Governor commitment to the criminal injustice system is destroying this state by putting our young in a prison system they may never escape from, more than 70% of them from minority communities, 99% of them from poor communities. The solution is simple educate our young, bring jobs to the state, not hindering them with out of date over regulation, but smart regulations that take business, the environment and most importantly people into account.
If you want to lessen the state budget in this “time of economic crisis” lessen the prison population and put the right people in jail, violent offender, white collar criminals, corrupt politicians. Have fair prison sentences appropriate to the crime in stead of 3 to 7yrs for a crime of omission, or 2 to 4 yr for having a drug problem.
We need to be depopulating our prisons and repopulating our schools!