Decarcerate PA and Fight for Philly held a rally on May 15th in Philadelphia to protest Governor Corbett's planned $685 million prison expansion at the same time as cutting schools and restructuring schools to include zero-tolerance discplinary codes designed to criminalize students and send them to new private prisions, also Corbett has proceeded with plans to offset some of the costs of prison expansion by leasing prison property to petrochemical companies to drill fracking wells.
Statement from Decarcerate PA:
c/o Institute for Community Justice • 21 S 12th Street, 7th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107 • (267) 217-3372 DecarceratePA@gmail.com
An Open Letter to Governor Corbett
Dear Governor Corbett,
In response to massive protests during your recent visit with the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, you said protestors need to “get their facts straight.” You claimed that you shouldn't be blamed for the state’s prison expansion because you canceled the construction of a prison in Fayette County.
We have our facts straight, Governor. The canceled Fayette project was just a drop in the bucket. While slashing funding for education, social services, and healthcare, you are moving ahead with the $685 million construction of three new state prisons and the expansion of nine existing facilities. This expansion would add at least 5,000 beds to Pennsylvania’s prison system, costing the state approximately $165 million in additional operating expenses per year.
For the first time in almost half a century, prison populations are decreasing nationally. But you continue to lead Pennsylvania in the opposite direction. Even while Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel and your own Justice Reinvestment Working Group examine possibilities for decreasing our need for more prison beds, you refuse to halt construction on expensive new prisons. Maybe the $102,000 in donations your campaign received from the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association speaks louder than your own Corrections Secretary.
When you canceled the Fayette prison, you said you wanted to promote industries that “generate wealth, not sorrow.” You have the perfect opportunity to do just that. With the stroke of a pen, you could make hundreds of millions of dollars available to build brighter futures for our children. Instead, you choose prison cells. You choose sorrow.