Posts in Racial Justice
Governor Wolf, shut it down. #ShutDownBerks #EndFamilyDetention

For Immediate Release
August 16, 2019
Press Contact: Colleen Kennedy
colleen@keystoneprogress.org

Keystone Progress stands unequivocally with the Shut Down Berks Coalition

Gov. Wolf MUST issue ERO releasing immigrant families to restore trust in his administration 

Harrisburg, PA - In the past week, Pennsylvanians have seen an active public relations campaign from Governor Wolf’s office, aiming to brand him as a savior of immigrants against the agenda of President Trump. Meanwhile, Governor Wolf has the power to make a real difference in the lives of countless immigrant families currently imprisoned at the Berks County Residential Center, by issuing an emergency removal order (ERO), yet he refuses to do so.

In July, psychologists who visited the detention center cited the real damage that was being caused to these children directly from their arbitrary imprisonment. WHYY reported that one of the psychologists, Anna Fisher, said “There is “no area of development that is spared by this kind of trauma. Oftentimes, this trauma is lasting, and it impacts all aspects of one’s functioning and development. Social, cognitive development, language development, attention development.” These acts of psychological violence on children are unwarranted and beneath the values of Pennsylvanians.

Keystone Progress Executive Director Dan Doubet issued the following statement in support of the coalition: 

“The Shutdown Berks Coalition has led the movement to end family detention in Pennsylvania, and we stand with them and all who stand against detention of children and families.  Governor Wolf seems more interested in performative, partisan declarations than in stopping the atrocities of incarceration happening right now, on his watch, in PA. He has the power to shut down the Berks detention center, and no tweet or press release condemning the president will make up for that. Governor Wolf, it’s time to lead: shut it down.

Linked here is the full statement from the Shut Down Berks Coalition, a group of courageous activists who have our full support as they continue to advocate for the human rights of immigrant families.

CALL GOVERNOR WOLF.

He needs to hear from you.
Here’s his phone number: 717-787-2500

ALERT: Dignity Act of Pennsylvania aims to protect the civil rights of incarcerated women

Human rights to all, including incarcerated women!

The Dignity Act for Incarcerated Women and Parents aims to end the direct harm our prisons have on entire families. This series of bills are currently in the House Judiciary Committee, and you can make your voice heard by signing this petition in support of the legislative package, in order to obtain more legislative co-sponsors.

Current Legislative Package:

HB 1011 (prime sponsor, Rep Morgan Cephas): would require the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to create a new committee focused specifically on issues affecting females

HB 1012 (prime sponsor, Rep Morgan Cephas): requires the DOC to submit an annual report on the number of health care screenings, emergency, maternal, and specialty care services they provide to the House Health Committee, House Human Services Committee, and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee

HB 1008 (prime sponsor, Rep Isabella Fitzgerald): require state prisons to provide at least two varieties of sanitary pads and two varieties of tampons to all female inmates at no cost, regardless of their financial means.

HB 999 (prime sponsor, Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler): calls for the creation of ombudsmen positions within the DOC. These neutral third-party assistants attempt to help with matters for which there is no effective administrative remedy.

HB 1002 (prime sponsor, Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler): creates a program that allows formerly incarcerated people to mentor currently incarcerated people

HB 1007 (prime sponsor, Rep. Joanna McClinton): would ensure that incarcerated parents are able to speak to their children regularly, regardless of their financial means, by providing them with one free phone call or email per month to each of their children

HB 1014 (prime sponsor, Rep. Summer Lee): would create an environment in our correctional institutions that properly assists and rehabilitates incarcerated individuals who have experienced trauma

HB 1593 (prime sponsor, Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell): would look to limit, to the greatest extent possible, inspections by male correctional officers when a female is in a state of undress. In addition, the bill would also require invasive body cavity searches of pregnant women to be done by a certified healthcare professional. There would be exceptions for cavity searches if a correctional officer has reason to believe the woman was concealing contraband, with justification being required in the form of a written report within 72 hours following the search.

HB 1591 (prime sponsor, Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell): would require the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) to place incarcerated mothers of a minor dependent within 250 miles of their permanent address of record. It would also authorize visitation by minor dependents for at least two days per week.

HB 1592 (prime sponsor, Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell): would establish an overnight visitation program at all PADOC facilities. The program would allow children 10 years or younger to stay overnight with their mother, so long as the mother meets certain qualifications. Furthermore, it would establish a separate, secure area where both mother and child could stay for the duration of the visit.

HB 1594 (prime sponsor, Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell): would require the PADOC and the Department of Human Services to jointly develop a training program for staff who have contact with incarcerated pregnant women. This program would include a variety of information about the general care of pregnant women and would also require that educational programming be put in place for pregnant women.