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Seven Decarcerate PA Members Arrested During Graterford Prison Protest

Activists were arrested after blocking the SCI Graterford construction entrance to protest prison expansion in Pennsylvania.


Seven members of Decarcerate PA were arrested Monday morning after blocking the construction entrance of SCI Graterford with school desks, apples, and a plastic school house.

"Seven protesters were putting their bodies on the line about how serious they are about getting this project canceled," Decarcerate PA's Thomas Dichter said.

The organization, which posted video of the early-morning protest, has been a loud voice against a $400 million project to increase the prison population in the Philadelphia suburbs.

"These new prisons represent an expansion of mass incarceration in Pennsylvania and a continuation of policies that lock people up instead of giving our communities the resources they need to thrive," said a statement released by Decarcerate PA after the arrest.

According to Pennsylvania State Police, seven protesters seated at school desks were ordered to disperse and failed to do so.

The protestors, all Philadelphia residents, were charged with criminal conspiracy, criminal trespass, failure of disorderly persons to disperse upon official order and disorderly conduct, and bail was set at 10 percent of $5,000 by District Justice Albert J. Augustine, according to police.

"It was an exciting event - and it it is also a matter of grave importance," said Dichter.

The group, which protested at Graterford SCI over the summer, will hold another event in Philadelphia later today.

Damien November 23, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Lynne I value and also hold what I read as your desire for folks to have access to work and to be active community members. Unfortunately, imprisonment, and the perpetuation of prisons disrupts all those values -- while not actually addressing any of the *causes* of crime. A prison sentence takes someone away from their family and community, and makes it much harder to get a job after someone is out. Why not spend the money on education and job training and anti-violence programs in the first place?
Anthony Wayne November 25, 2012 at 04:04 PM
In 2010 the US passed the two million mark of prison population. That number leads the world by no small margin. Do you realize the cost of a year in jail exceeds the cost of a year in college? Who benefits from "three strikes your out"? The time is long past to take a fresh look at the war on drugs and other ways the federal government is killing our country. We all suffer daily from the effects of the nanny state and we alone hold the power to halt its progress. Where is the voice of reason? Of common sense? The prison system is broken and needs a rethink and so does the federal government.
Curmudgeon November 25, 2012 at 05:23 PM
How do you know how many people are in prison in China??, Iran?, Russia?? Our population has doubled since the 1950's. What is the # as a percentage of population?? Maybe if we enforced the death penalty, the number would go down. There are many reasons why the prison population has risen. Not all those in jail are victims of the drug laws. In today's society, you really have to repeat offenses many times to end up in jail. Stop it with the education, job training and feel good programs. Most of these people are just plain bad. If you think not, I'm sure there are programs where you can take some into your home as a half-way house. Put your mouth is where our money is!!
Anthony Wayne November 25, 2012 at 08:55 PM
"China, Iran, and Russia" Thank you for proving my point. These are the countries that come to your mind when comparing quality of justice in prison populations? For the past fifteen years or so the US has been feeling like just another oppressive regime, so we agree on that.
Turtleboots April 10, 2013 at 04:38 PM
"Human Rights Watch Thursday published its annual World Report, in which it lays out a pointed critique of the U.S. prison system. The enormous prison population — the largest in the world at 1.6million — “partly reflects harsh sentencing practices contrary to international law,” notes the report." http://www.salon.com/2013/01/31/human_rights_watch_decries_u_s_prison_system/

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