In Philadelphia, A Protest of Draconian State Prison Policies
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is backing draconian measures to restrict mail, books and periodicals available to prisoners. On Oct. 10, over 100 protesters in Philadelphia demonstrated against the new policies, which were adopted by the state’s Department of Corrections (PADOC) last month. Gathering outside the Yards Brewing Company, where Wolf was holding a campaign fundraiser, several demonstrators managed to get inside the venue. They directly challenged Wolf before they were forcibly removed.
The protest was called by Books Through Bars, the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration, the Amistad Law Project, Life Lines Project, the Human Rights Coalition PA, Decarcerate PA, and the Youth Art and Self-improvement Project.
The new PADOC policies will cost over $15 million, while at the same time the state has cut back on funding for education, claiming budget shortages. The measures represent yet another avenue for corporations to profit off the suffering of prisoners and their families, who already pay excessive prices for phone calls and commissary purchases. “Health care” for the PADOC has been managed by for-profit interests for years.
The new policies also increase the violation of prisoners’ rights, restrict access to educational materials and interrupt people’s correspondence with loved ones on the outside. Under the regulations, prisoners’ mail is being sent to a private company in Florida, where it is opened, scanned and emailed to the prisons before copies of the mail are printed and delivered to prisoners. Originals are destroyed while scanned copies are kept in a searchable database by the DOC. Legal mail is now copied and given to the recipient, with the original — and highly sensitive — documents kept on file for 15 days.