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FAMM challenges Pennsylvania lawmakers to #VisitAPrison
Despite laws for prisons and the people in them, few policymakers visit them
HARRISBURG – Today, FAMM launched its national “#VisitAPrison” campaign to encourage policymakers to visit a prison or jail in the next year, which includes a focus on Pennsylvania. The Keystone state has 23 State Corrections Institutions (SCIs), which employ 16,000 people, and imprison approximately 37,000 incarcerated individuals.
“People who’ve often never set foot inside prisons and jails write laws for them,” said FAMM Pennsylvania State Director Maria Goellner. “Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections has many challenges. FAMM’s #VisitAPrison campaign enables the policymakers to learn more from the people who live and work in these facilities. Our message is simple: You don’t know if you don’t go. We appreciate everyone making visits during our launch week, and we will push for more visits going forward.”
Several policymakers have pledged to visit prisons as part of the campaign’s launch, including:
• State Rep. Austin Davis (D-Allegheny County), who is the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, will visit SCI Fayette on July 12.
• State Rep. Mike Jones (R-York County) will visit SCI Chester on July 12
• State Rep. Manny Guzman (D-Berks County) will visit SCI Phoenix on July 13.
• Board of Pardons Secretary Celeste Trusty will lead staff in a visit to SCI Camp Hill on July 14.
• Five to ten members of Governor Wolf’s executive team will visit SCI Muncy on July 14.• State Rep. Carrie Lewis DelRosso (R-Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties), who is the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor, will visit SCI Cambridge Springs in the coming weeks; a date is not set.
Pennsylvania’s prisons and jails are plagued by staff shortages and other chronic problems that can make them unsafe to live and work in for incarcerated people and correctional officers alike. The Keystone State has the highest incarceration rate in the Northeastern U.S. and the second-highest number of people serving life without parole sentences in the country.
In 2015, the state’s Supreme Court struck down its mandatory minimum sentencing laws as unconstitutional. Since then, FAMM has opposed efforts to reinstate mandatory minimums; while also supporting reforms to life without parole sentences, increased use of early release for elderly and ill people in prison, more use of executive clemency, prison mail policies that keep families connected, ending prison medical copays, and more.
Goellner added, “Our goal is to use these prison visits as a springboard to implement more evidence-based sentencing reforms that save taxpayer dollars. Those savings can be redirected to proven alternatives to reduce crime and recidivism.”
To assist in the effort, FAMM has mobilized families, advocates, allies, and public figures to share their stories via video using the #VisitAPrison hashtag and to challenge policymakers to educate themselves about the conditions of confinement in federal and state prisons and jails.
The campaign can be followed by searching for “#VisitAPrison” on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. For more information, visit FAMM.org/visitaprison or email email@example.com.
FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safely reduce incarceration, save taxpayer dollars, and keep families together. Founded in 1991, FAMM has secured bold sentencing and prison reform across the country while elevating the voices of directly impacted individuals and families.
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