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News :: Human Rights
SHaRC announces Massachusetts prison moratorium campaign
26 Jul 2005
Members of the Massachusetts Statewide Harm Reduction coalition or SHaRC, and supporters held a press conference at the State House July 13 to announce a statewide campaign to demand a moratorium on all jail and prison construction in Massachusetts which includes a proposed $27 million dollar women’s jail in Chicopee located in Western Massachusetts.
By the Women’s Fightback Network

BOSTON -- Members of the Massachusetts Statewide Harm Reduction coalition or SHaRC, and supporters held a press conference at the State House July 13 to announce a statewide campaign to demand a moratorium on all jail and prison construction in Massachusetts which includes a proposed $27 million dollar women’s jail in Chicopee located in Western Massachusetts.

Speakers explained why continued construction of jails and prisons is a waste and has contributed to the current statewide crisis for individuals, families, and communities.

“The U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration in the world,” said Holly Richardson, of Out Now, a SHaRC member. “We are calling for – at the very minimum – no further increase in the number of people going into prisons or jails, and no increase in prison beds.”

Many emphasized the systemic racist character of the prison-industrial complex especially the increasing incarceration of women of color, the fastest growing jail and prison population.

Solobia Hutchins, a SHaRC organizer, said, “Women should get the services they need while incarcerated, but the truth is that I don’t want women to be imprisoned in the first place. The truth is that there’s almost no low income housing in Western Mass, drug treatment beds have been cut by 60 percent and there are no real, living-wage jobs. At the same time, we’re locking up more and more poor women and women of color for economic and healthcare reasons. We don’t need 200 more prison beds for women. We don’t need jail expansion.”

Iris Wallace, of the Springfield-based Arise for Social Justice, said that, “Often when women are put behind bars families are torn apart; children get cut off from their families, and many end up in the Department of Social Services. Sometimes women are left to wait more than a year for their day in court because they have no money for bail. There are many better ways to spend money. How about helping women make it out here, instead of setting us up for failure?”

Other speakers included Boston City Councilors Chuck Turner and Felix Arroyo; ACLU-Massachusetts Executive Director Carol Rose; family of Kelly Jo Griffen, who died from lack of medical care while in prison; Susan Mortimer, long time anti-prison activist whose severely disabled brother, along with scores of others, experience ongoing medical, mental, and physical abuse in the Massachusetts prison system; Keith Harvey, Executive Director of the New England Regional Office of American Friends Service Committee; Judith Roderick, community activist and resident of District 7 in Boston; Robert Dellelo, AFSC; and creative political expression by the young women of Reflect and Strengthen.

After the press conference SHaRC members delivered petitions with over 2,000 signatures of Massachusetts residents in support of a moratorium to Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. SHaRC is asking that supporters call Romney at (617) 725-4005 to oppose the Chicopee jail and all new jail and prison construction in Massachusetts.

Declared Wallace, “We need to keep up the fight until the moment the shovels start digging and beyond. We need affordable housing, healthcare for all, public transportation, better schools, real childcare and social services, summer youth employment programs and so much more…”

For more information on the SHaRC prison moratorium campaign see www.stopchicopeejail.org or call (413) 348-8234.

-- 30 --
See also:
http://www.stopchicopeejail.org
http://www.sentencingproject.org

This work is in the public domain
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