Dear Prison Society Supporters:
This week, we pay tribute to three board members whose combined service to the Pennsylvania Prison Society has played a crucial role in setting our course for the future. Bill DeWeese, Carol Petraitis, and Malik Neal have termed off the Prison Society Board of Directors, but their impact and our appreciation for their leadership remains.
The Honorable William “Bill” DeWeese is the former Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Bill works as a political consultant. He is a long-standing champion of Prison Society issues. In the 1980s, Bill chaired the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee just as private prisons were first under consideration. Bill invited the Society to testify to the Committee, and instantly became a lifelong supporter. In 2012-13, Bill spent two years incarcerated at SCI Retreat. Bill's dedication to the men he met at Retreat is boundless. Bill is a strong voice for returning citizens and for the health, safety, and dignity of people in prison. Bill lives in Waynesburg, in Southwestern Pennsylvania. He joined the Prison Society board in 2016.Bill DeWeese is a tireless advocate for the Prison Society in Harrisburg. Bill has guided the Society in expanding its presence at the state capital. Bill works to make sure that every state legislator knows about the Society and why its work matters to Pennsylvania.
Carol Petraitis is the former Director of the Clara Bell Duvall Reproductive Freedom Project of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. Carol has been at the forefront of reproductive and justice rights for nearly 25 years. Carol's work has focused on uncovering and correcting barriers to reproductive health services for all women, including incarcerated women. Carol lives in Philadelphia. She joined the Prison Society board in 2016.
Carol Petraitis is someone who, when she agrees to do something, does it to the fullest. She has continually stepped up – and gone beyond – when the Society has needed it most. Over the years, she has managed our development initiatives, and has been steadfast through every season of the Society’s work.
We couldn’t be more thrilled that Carol has agreed to stay closely involved and inaugurate the Benjamin Rush Council, which will enable former board members and regional leaders to lend their professional expertise, diverse knowledge of constituent perspectives, and their connections to local and national resources to further our work.
Malik Neal recently stepped down from his role as Executive Director of the Philadelphia Bail Fund, a nonprofit organization he co-founded in 2017 to prevent unnecessary pretrial detention by paying bail for low-income Philadelphians and advocating for cash bail reform. Prior to this role, he was a research associate at The Adams Group, a communications and market research firm, and worked in management consulting at CRA, Inc. and in the non-profit sector for Eisenhower Fellowships. Malik is a long-time Prison Society volunteer. He led the Society Philadelphia volunteer chapter up until 2018. Malik is also a family member who has been helped by the Society. Malik rode the Society's now-suspended family buses to visit his uncles in state prisons hours away from Philadelphia. Malik lives in Philadelphia. He joined the Prison Society board in 2017.
Malik has authored the Prison Society's strategic course. As the leader of the Philadelphia volunteer chapter, Malik developed volunteer training, structures, and organization that significantly increased the effectiveness of Society volunteers advocating for the health, safety, and dignity of people in prison. The Society's vision for the future is based on replicating the lessons of Malik's work across the state.
“It has been a high honor to serve on the board of the Prison Society. Ever since I was Judiciary Chairman of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the late 1980s and invited the Prison Society to testify before my committee, I have held the mission and the people of the Society in high esteem. My voting record over 36 years was consistent with the aspirations of the board members and the volunteers of your profoundly important organization. - Bill DeWeese