From a New NJ Blog: Decarcerate NJ: Panel Discussion on Mass Incarceration July 30 2014

Open letter to Newark Organizations and Individuals Engaged in or Concerned About the Struggles for Justice:
June 23, 2014

In the last 2 weeks, Newark residents and others have met to begin planning a panel discussion on the topic of mass incarceration to be held on the steps of City Hall in Newark at 5:30 pm on Wednesday July 30.

We are hoping to use this event to launch a statewide coordinated effort to bring about the passage of what we call The NJ Decarceration Act that will call for sweeping reductions in NJ’s state prison populations.  We are sure that you have heard the statistics, how this nation has 6% of the world’s population yet holds 25% of the world’s prisoners, more than every other country on the planet.

Already, close to 1000 NJ residents have signed a petition with specific proposals as to how this can be accomplished.

 https://www.change.org/petitions/nj-state-senate-and-assembly-we-call-for-the-passage-of-a-nj-decarceration-act-to-deliver-large-scale-reductions-in-nj-s-state-adult-and-youth-prison-populations

 While there are many political and social sectors now calling for one kind of “prison reform” or another, given the racist and classist way that this state and nation determines who gets arrested, who gets prosecuted, who gets sentenced and for how long, it is of utmost importance that our communities take the lead in structuring the kind of decarceration legislation that is initiated and fought for.  We need to take the first step.

Our panel discussion will consist of three mini panels:

1. The first will be a broad overview of the mass incarceration issue that will break down the social function of mass incarceration, what interests it serves, who profits and gains from it. We will also discuss the racist element, how it is used to control our communities, the conditions of prisons, the treatment of prisoners, the health toll on the incarcerated and the forms of torture deployed in prisons. Last but not least will we demonstrate how mass incarceration devastates families as well as communities socially, politically and economically in some form of fashion.

2. The second mini panel will represent voices of Newark in discussing the specifics on a local level. The Newark community will express the toll mass incarceration takes within the community. The importance around this issue is critical to the survival and well being of the Newark community.

3. The third mini panel will talk about organizing this effort going forward, how to press for the introduction of NJ Decarceration Act, how to have similar forums in the other communities around NJ, how to approach the NJ legislature on the issue, how to mobilize support from within the community and families that are directly affected by mass incarceration.

While we have held two meetings, so far we have discussed primarily the logistics.  We are hoping that Newark’s rich and diverse array of activist organizations and voices participate and become part of this effort.  Our next meeting to continue organizing the panel will occur on Wednesday, June 25  6:30 pm at 298 S. 6th Street on the corner of So. Orange Av. ( the old habitat for humanity building).

We invite your members, organizers and leaders as individuals as well as your organization to become part of this effort.  We believe there is tremendous potential for success to deliver real and significant decarceration in NJ though our organizations and individuals working in common purpose to demand the passage and implementation of a NJ Decarceration Act.  We have drafted a letter to NJ Senator Ron Rice urging him to take the initiative toward introduction of the NJ Decarceration Act.  We urge your members and your organization to also make similar contact with Sen. Rice and other NJ representatives.

Please be encouraged to contact us at (908-881-5275) with any questions or ideas you have and we hope that you and / or a representative of your organization can attend the next meeting and participate in the event.

Sincerely,

Veronica Branch               Milton Conway                 Cassandra Dock              Brittani Johnson
Michael Allen Hobbs       Beautiful SeeAsia             Ruben E. Mendez            Bob Witanek
And others

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1443416885904424

Seven arrested in protest outside Graterford prison

Published: Monday, in: Montgomery News

November 19, 2012

By Bradley Schlegel


Authorities arrested seven protesters from Decarcerate PA early Monday morning along Route 73 in Skippack.

The group was blocking the entrance to the construction site of two new prisons on the grounds of SCI Graterford, according to a public information release report from the Pennsylvania State Police.

The protesters lined up a number of chairs, desks and apples along the road between Hudnut and Lucon roads, according to Decarcerate PA spokesperson Thomas Dichter.

All from Philadelphia, the protesters face charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal trespass, failure to disperse and disorderly conduct, according to state police. The intent of the “mock schoolhouse” was to bring further attention to Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to construct the new prisons, according to Dichter.

He said the grassroots organization believes the approximately $400 million needed to build the two facilities would be better utilized to fund Pennsylvania’s education, calling the demonstration an attempt to draw attention to the “wasting of valuable state resources.”

Authorities observed 10 school-style desks purposefully placed by the protesters to block the construction entrance, according to information provided by Morgan Crummy, the public information officer at the state police’s Skippack barracks.

The protesters set up at 6:40 a.m. Monday, according to Dichter.

He said they were arrested approximately one hour later.

Police said the desks were occupied by seven protesters and that authorities observed eight other protesters on foot.

All seven protestors — Layne Mullett, 27, of the 4000 block of Walnut Street; Jenna Peters-Golden, 27, of the 800 block of Saint Bernard Street; Leana Cabral, 29 of the 4000 block of Hazel Avenue; Erica Slaymaker, 23, of the 400 block of Sansom Street; Sean Damon, 35, of Chester Avenue; David Fisher, 41, of the 5000 block of Chester Avenue and Robin Markle, 26, of the 5000 block of Cedar Avenue — were arraigned by District Judge Albert Augustine, according to authorities.

The judge set the bail for each at 10 percent of $5,000, according to police.

Dichter described the nature of the demonstration as escalation of Decarcerate PA’s willingness to “do what needs to be done” to prevent the construction of the prisons.

http://www.montgomerynews.com/articles/2012/11/19/springford_reporter_valley_item/news/doc50aac332aa755924734922.txt?viewmode=fullstory

No New Prisons! Aug 17th rally

August 17th Rally
Join Decarcerate PA to demand:

NO NEW PRISONS!
While budgets for education and human resources are being slashed left and right, Pennsylvania is spending $685 million in new funds for prison expansion.

These cuts will continue to devastate already struggling communities throughout Philadelphia. Public money is better spent on education, job training and placement, treatment programs, and non-punitive programs that address the root causes of violence in our communities.

The multinational corporation Hill International has been chosen to manage the construction of a new Graterford prison in Montgomery County.

The expansion will double the current size of Graterford prison at a projected cost of $400 million.

Join us to demand that Hill build communities, not prisons.
Join us to demand that Corbett fund education, not incarceration.
August 17 2011
5pm at Hill International * 15th and Chestnut
For more information, contact DecarceratePA@gmail.com