Right now in Harrisburg the Pennsylvania budget is being set.
YOU have an opportunity to make sure that the safety, health, and dignity of people in prison is taken into account.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Prison Society staff and volunteers observed conditions in almost every correctional facility in the state and responded to more than 2,400 individual requests from incarcerated people and their loved ones to look into issues of safety, abuse, and access to healthcare. At the same time, our family helpline answered questions from 5,000 family members looking for guidance on how to stay connected to incarcerated loved ones.
The Society has performed this critical public service without public funding. And while that was tenable in 1980 when there were 16,000 Pennsylvanians in county and state custody, today with 62,000 people in custody, we can't fully meet the demand for this work without public support.
Today, the Society needs funding to continue to provide robust, timely prison monitoring. We are calling on the Pennsylvania legislature to approve funding for the Society's work to protect the safety and dignity of people who are confined to and work in Pennsylvania's county and state prisons.
Last year, Pennsylvania taxpayers paid nearly $5 billion to incarcerate 62,000 people in 85 state and county prisons; that is $29,000 per inmate per year. There are tens of millions more in lawsuits to settle claims by people who have been mistreated or neglected while in prison. With an investment of $2 million the Pennsylvania Prison Society estimates it would be able to generate the Commonwealth an annual savings of $4 million from prevented lawsuits and reduced recidivism – people who are free from abuse and treated with dignity have an easier time reentering the community.
Here's how you can help:
You can use the script below to assist you:
Hello, my name is ________ and I am a constituent of your district. Today, I am contacting you to respectfully request your support of the Pennsylvania Prison Society’s request for funding.
For this budget session, the Pennsylvania Prison Society is seeking a $2 million line item to support its work as Pennsylvania's independent prison monitor. This investment will protect the safety of incarcerated people and staff, while simultaneously saving taxpayers dollars.
If you or your state legislator have any questions or would like more information about this request or the work the Society does, please feel free to contact Prison Society Education and Advocacy Fellow Anton Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.