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Decarcerate PA Protest Hits Snag at Graterford; Carries On Anyway

Despite being prevented by police from protesting in front of the prison, the movement voiced their concerns regarding Governor Corbett’s priorities.

Decarcerate Pennsylvania protested the Graterford Prison expansion on Tuesday, though it was semi-thwarted when members of the Pennsylvania State Police prevented them from walking onto the Graterford complex.

The group had initially , but state police prevented them from making the trek citing safety concerns.

“We prevented them from obstructing the highway – we did it for their safety,” said a Trooper. “People are going to start looking at them, and not pay attention to the way they are driving, so it is an issue of safety.”

Despite the concerns from police, Decarcerate Pennsylvania member Hakim Ali believes that the police were not acting in the group’s best interest.

“Obviously [the police are] not that concerned about our welfare in terms of getting hit by a car,” Ali said. “That’s like saying we’re the most idiotic people in the world, like we would walk in front of cars and get hit. There are ulterior motives to this.”

Regardless of motive, the protest carried on and roughly 60 people stood in front of – including several people who biked from the Philadelphia Art Museum – with signs stating "Stop the Prison Expansion," "Education, Not Incarceration" and "No New Prisons, Community Re-Investment."

The most vocal member of the protest was Atiba Kwesi, a former Graterford inmate who was released two and a half years ago.

"I did a lot of time in that spot – unfortunately – and now I have the freedom to be here," said Kwesi, a member of Justice for All and the Public Safety Initiative. "Governor Corbett wants to take money from Philadelphia schools and put it into prisons."

Schools versus prisons were an echoed sentiment amongst many at the protest.

"To me, it’s becoming one of the most pressing social issues of our time," said Thomas Dichter, a member of Decarcerate PA. "It’s becoming a financial crisis because we can’t afford a $400 million prison while we’re slashing education; while the Philadelphia school district has dissolved. It’s atrocious that the money is being spent expanding a prison system."

Liberty 1 July 18, 2012 at 10:31 AM
Just how much is spent on our prisons versus the sink hole called the public school system? The taxpayers would be much better off if the prison system was reformed and the public school system as we know it abolished. It is tiring to constantly hear the whining of the left about how much more money needs to be spent on government schools. Is it any wonder that the prisons are crowded with graduates of our government education facilities?
Dynamo47 July 18, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Well said Liberty. I think that since it is so hot outside perhaps we should have prison officials escort the protestors inside the prison, preferably General Population, and let them protest there.
SMYRNA-X July 18, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Pa can decarcerate when criminals stop commiting crimes. Why would society let criminals be free to commit more crime. If crime does happen it has to be addressed, thats prison. Suck it up...do the crime...do the time. These protesters are people who are criminals themselves, or usefull idiots. I feel bad for the troopers who had to deal with this hygenically challenged group.
Katrina Manning July 18, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Personally I feel that the new prison facility is a good thing. Is anyone actually aware of how many people are sitting on the waiting list for a Civil Service job with the prison(s) as correctional officers, nurses, secretaries, etc? This new prison expansion will create jobs for people who need them. I support it. Hands down.
SMYRNA-X July 18, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Why is it that the protest hit a "snag." The cognitive thinking of these protestors is a snag, thier whole concept of right and wrong is a snag. Its clearly a bunch of screw ups doing what scew ups do......screw up! Whats the patch's love affair with moronic protestors? 2 weeks ago it was dwi enablers, this week its leftist radicals trying to free criminals.
John Q. Public July 19, 2012 at 01:59 AM
They want their boyfriends and family members out of Graterford; that's what is driving this.
Laura July 20, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Rt 29 is not safe to walk, not a question of the intelligence of the protestors. Protestors should definately not be let on prison grounds, safety issue and distracting to prison officials / workers. That said, 4 bil for this prison is ridiculous and so is building prisoners tennis courts with my money.
Liberty 1 July 20, 2012 at 09:50 AM
You are right Laura. Tennis courts??? How much would a batch of the metal huts and cots cost. No television or radios just time to clean up roadways etc. I know that just being incarcerated is enough of a deterrent for most of us but it should be made barebones so people should not want to return.
Dynamo47 July 20, 2012 at 11:06 AM
I agree with Liberty1. Prison is meant to be a punishment. For some it is an upgrade in lifestyle. I like what Sheriff Joe does in Arizona. He makes the inmates truly work during their stay and doesn't make it comfortable for them. I recall one story where an inmate said it was going to be 110 degrees in the desert that day and Sheriff Joe told the inmate it was going to be 115 in Iraq that day where soldiers were fighting.
WILLIAM WEBER July 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM
LIBERTY 1- VERY NICELY SAID, I AGREE WITH YOUR WAY OF THINKING!!!!! THE PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS WHO CAN'T READ, CAN'T SPEAK ENGLISH,BUT THEY HAVE A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA. I'M IN FAVOR OF MORE PRISONS- THAT'S WHERE THEY WILL END UP.
WILLIAM WEBER July 20, 2012 at 01:01 PM
SHERIFF JOE FOR WARDEN OF GRATERFORD PRISON. I LIKE HIS WAY OF THINKING!!!!

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