by The Philadelphia Student Union October 22, 2015
In May of 2015, Councilman Bobby Henon put forth a bill that would pave the way for a new prison along the Delaware River to replace the aging House of Corrections. Thanks to the work of tireless advocates, vocal city council attendees and those who called in to voice their concerns regarding the building a of a new prison, especially in a moment when our schools are critically underfunded, Councilman Henon has promised to not reintroduce the bill in this session.
In lieu of the bill, he has created a working group committed to the closure of HOC and the creation of policies aimed towards reducing the incarcerated population in Philadelphia. Philadelphia Student Union, along with our allies who helped fight the land purchase bill this spring, will be a part of this working group. As members of this working group, we are committed to the closure of HOC- a building so decrepit that national governmental agencies have threatened to step in to close it in the event that Philadelphia’s city council cannot- and reducing the number of people incarcerated in our city. This working group will include community members, stakeholders and constituents. We know that this working group’s creation could not have happened without the years of organizing and resistance to mass incarceration, which has set the stage for us to create alternatives to administering justice, here in Philadelphia and nationwide.
It is essential that the city of Philadelphia is committed to closing HOC, as it is overcrowded, dilapidated and unfit to serve as an institution. We also believe that we cannot be free until we are all free and as such, we need to develop models to ensure that fewer humans are locked up in the first place. We know that mass incarceration destroys lives, families and communities. We want to live in a city where everyone is treated with love, justice and dignity. We know that by funding the building of prisons, rather than the education of Philadelphia’s youth, will be another step towards solidifying the school-to-prison pipeline for our city. We believe that our justice begins with building up the school house and tearing down the jail house. We will continue to work for the freedom of all, together.