Marching Over 100 Miles for Pennsylvania’s Prisoners

Decarcerate PA launches a 113-mile march from Love Park to  Harrisburg. Photo: Dustin Slaughter

Decarcerate PA launches a 113-mile march from Love Park to Harrisburg. Photo: Dustin Slaughter

A strong wind sprayed mist from Love Park’s fountain onto approximately 100 people gathered for a spirited send-off yesterday for a contingent of Decarcerate PA activists planning to march to Harrisburg.

“Pennsylvania does not want, does not need, and cannot afford any more prisons,” said Decarcerate PA member Brian Mertens. “We want to see our taxpayer dollars invested in the things that make our communities stronger, like education, health care and social services, not in building more prison cells.”

Approximately two dozen activists plan to march 113-miles to the state capitol to demand that Pennsylvania’s General Assembly vote down a proposed $68 million increase for the state’s Department of Corrections budget, as well as an end to further construction at Montgomery County’s Graterford Prison, where Governor Corbett’s administration plans to spend over $400 million for two new prisons in the midst of unprecedented cuts to education and other social services.

“Many of our lawmakers talk the talk about the need for prison reform and increased education funding,” writes Decarcerate PA in a press release. “But they refuse to walk the walk. We are walking all the way from Philly to Harrisburg to tell them the time for change is now.”

Marchers expect to arrive at the state capital on June 3rd, but before they reach their destination, they will kickoff a “Invest in the Future, Not Fear!” rally in Norristown. They will also be joining with DreamActivist PA to call for an end to immigrant detention, mass deportation and criminalization. Among other events along the way, the group plans to protest at the site of a Graterford prison construction site where seven members were arrested during a creative act of civil disobedience on November 19th, 2012:

It is no secret that Philadelphia has bore the brunt of these cuts – particularly in the realm of public schools – where the unelected, Corbett-appointed School Reform Commission voted on May 8th to close 23 schools, amid strong opposition from community groups such as United Federation of Teachers, the Philadelphia Student Union and PCAPS.

Food stamps and basic health care for the poor have already seen drastic cuts.

Find your state legislator and give them feedback as they reconvene the Assembly on June 3rd.

To learn more about Decarcerate PA, visit their website.

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