Thursday, August 11, 2011

Decarcereate PA and the Social Costs of a Growing Prison Industrial Complex.

The Decarcerate PA Coalition plans to rally outside the Philadelphia offices of Hill International on Wednesday August 17 in an effort to pressure the company to end its plan to manage the construction of a new Graterford Prison in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Hill International has been awarded a 14 million contract to oversee the building of the new prison. That is a fraction of the 400 million dollars of Pennsylvania state funds slated for various aspects of the new Graterford Prison construction project. According to Dan Berger of Decarcerate PA, the larger aim behind the August 17 rally is the reprioritization of Pennsylvania’s social agenda.

“We are going to be out there rallying against the proposed construction of a new prison at Graterford…and really demanding that the money—the 14 million dollars that Hill has been given in various contracts so far and the 400 million dollars that the Graterford Prison is supposed to cost—not go into prison construction, and instead be spent on schools, jobs, healthcare and things that will actually sustain our communities,” Berger says.

According to the recent Sentencing Project report “On the Chopping Block: State Prison Closings,” 13 states in 2011 have either closed prisons or are considering doing so, creating the potential for a total decrease in prison capacity nationwide of up to 14,793 beds. Pennsylvania’s 400 million-dollar new Graterford prison construction project, however, is a move in a different direction.

We speak with 3 members of the Decarcerate PA Coalition--Dan Berger, Joshua Glenn, and Omar Shabazz--about the relationship of the Hill International contract to the larger issue of the social costs of the growth of the prison industrial complex.


1. In the interview, an incorrect meeting spot was given for the Decarcerate PA Coalition. The correct meeting location is: 21 South 12th Street, 7th floor.

2. In addition, in the interview it was stated that Hill International had built only a few prisons in the United States. After further exploration of the Hill International website, however, Dan Berger discovered a list of more than 30 jails and/or correctional institutions that Hill was involved in constructing.

Decarcerate_PA_Interview--8-11-2011.mp3 Listen on Posterous

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