Department Of Corrections Suspends In-Person Visitation
Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) Acting Secretary George Little announced today that the department is suspending in-person visitation at all state correctional institutions from Jan. 27 through Feb. 28, 2022. The move will allow facilities to more effectively allocate staff amid a surge of COVID-19 cases throughout the commonwealth.
Full press release is available here.
Detailed information about inmate visitation is available here.
Subject: [PA Commutation] FAMM recommends clemency process reforms in letter to Governor Wolf and other officials
Please see the attached letter that FAMM issued to Governor Wolf and other officials regarding ways to improve and expand clemency. Thank you very much to those inside and out whose brainstorming and experiences contributed to this.
FAMM is fighting for second chances, including for people who committed serious crimes. To win support for second chances, we want to teach people how ineffective extreme prison sentences are and how much damage they cause to families.
We recently released a new video about second look laws and how they can help people earn a second chance. Although the video takes place in Virginia, the message is universal.
I hope you like it. If so, please share with your friends, family, and networks, and encourage them to join our campaign for second chances.
There are over 45,000 people in PA state prisons. While the statewide decarceration movement is building there is still a great need for people to advocate for those on the inside who suffer human rights violations, medical neglect and corrupt conditions of confinement. Join a solid crew of people who have been advocating for people in prison for years to learn the ins and outs of supporting people in prison. We also seek to strengthen our statewide network so we can better support each other's efforts and networks. This is a great entry point into much needed prison abolition work.
Patricia Vickers - Human Rights Coalition (HRC)
Jonas Caballero - Abolitionist Law Center
Shandre Delaney - HRC - Fed Up!
etta cetera - Let's Get Free
Alan Lewandowski - Let's Get Free
Dustin Gibson - HEARD
Ellen Melchiondo writes in the capacity as a co-founder of The Women Lifers Resume Project of PA.
The momentum for women in Pennsylvania to get commuted from their life without parole (LWOP) sentence has diminished. Even with commuted lifer Naomi Blount hired to assist women filing their applications by Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman who heads the PA Board of Pardons (BOP) women are still being denied a merit review. This prevents them from getting a public hearing. Life sentenced Sheena King and co-creator of The Women Lifers Resume Project of PA asks: “Why isn’t mercy extended more to women? Are we somehow less deserving than men?” (read more)
Free Maria Rodriguez-Commute Her Life Sentence
Ellen Melchiondo started this petition to Pennsylvania Board of Pardons and two others.
Maria Rodriguez has been in prison before her son was conceived at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections women's prison in Muncy. Her son Diego also has a father serving life without parole-and his parents met at the prison in Muncy when men and women were housed together. Think about that for a moment. Marie began her life sentence at the age of 23 in 1980. She was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Philadelphia at the age of four. Maria's upbringing was traumatic. She had no one to raise her and dropped out of school in the 5th grade.
[CADBI West] Annual Art show for Abolition Opens Friday (11/19/2021)
We are enthusiastic to announce Let’s Get Free’s 5th annual art show featuring artists and poets in and outside of prison. EMPATHY is the seed, TRUTH is the water, SOLIDARITY is the bloomage, will be presented in person at the Brew House Gallery as well as on-line. The show will open Friday November 19 from 6:00-9:00 pm, and will run through December 19.
Art Opening and Auction Begins! Friday November 19, 6:00-9:00 pm - Brew House, 711 21st Street, South Side of Pittsburgh
Gallery Hours: November 19 - December 19, Thursdays 2:00-7:00 pm,
Fridays & Saturdays 11:00-4:00 pm at the Brew House
Radical Art Market: Saturday and Sunday December 18 and 19, 11 - 3 pm
Full list of Events, Auction/Contest Info and Online Gallery will be available at https://creative-resistance.org/
This year’s show features 34 artists in prison and 29 artists in solidarity expressing a range of media, from watercolor to cross stitch to sculpture. First-time participant Marilyn Dobrolenski submitted a beautiful piece entitled “Harmony,” which features a lush and verdant wetland scene with water lilies, done in acrylic paint. Marilyn turned 69 this year and is one of over 70 women serving a life sentence over the age of 65. #LetGrandmaGo
Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Weigh in on Death-By-Incarceration Lawsuit
Six Incarcerated People Challenging Lifetime Ban on Parole for Those Convicted of Felony Murder
October 25, 2021, Harrisburg, PA ‒ A lawsuit brought by six people serving mandatory Death-By-Incarceration sentences, commonly known as Life Without Parole, will go before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which will decide if a lawsuit challenging the practice can proceed. Represented by the Abolitionist Law Center, Amistad Law Project, and Center for Constitutional Rights, they seek an end to the prohibition on parole for those serving life sentences under the state’s felony murder rule.
The felony murder rule, which exists in forty-four states, holds a person liable for murder if the person participates in a felony that leads to a death, even if the person plays no direct role in the death or does not intend (READ MORE)
In July, four SL staff (Travis, Kelly, Naomi, & Jeff) traveled to visit two prisons in North Dakota to kick off our new arts and personal development program, the Shining Light Academy.
Read more about it..
Let's Get Free Art Contest
Fighting to End the Other Death Sentence: Life Without Parole
and Austin Serat, Jr., explains that the United States, unlike Europe, rejects the role of “dignity” in its sentencing practices. Joseph Dole, currently serving life without parole at Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois, and the author of numerous articles (several
published in Truthout) discussed progress against harsh sentencing in a letter: “There has finally been an acknowledgment that long sentences are the main driver of mass incarceration, that people age out of crime and are thus less of a threat when they are older, and that longer sentences don’t deter or reduce crime.”
When incarcerated people in 17 states initiated a 19-day prison strike last month, one of their 10 demands was that all “imprisoned humans have [the] possibility of rehabilitation and parole.” This includes the opportunity for early release, allowing prisoners both to exit before the end of their sentence and to serve their remaining time in the community.
It also means an end to the harsh sentencing practice known as life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). In an August 26 interview with MSNBC, formerly incarcerated activist Darren Mack described LWOP as “death by incarceration,” explaining, “You will not leave prison until you die.”
Noted political scientist and author Marie Gottschalk has called life without parole “death in slow motion.” Pope Francis deemed it “a death penalty in disguise.” Kenneth Hartman, who served more than 37 years in prison before California governor Jerry Brown commuted his sentence, was the first to label it “the other death penalty.” When he was still behind bars, Hartman wrote for The Marshall Project that life without parole is “the sense of being dead while you’re still alive, the feeling of being dumped into a deep well struggling to tread water until, some 40 or 50 years later, you drown.”
Across the country, activists inside and outside prison are making headway in organizing to end this harsh sentencing practice. They say more and more people are realizing that the US is an outlier in extreme sentencing. Jonathan Simon, writing in Life Without Parole: America’s New Death Penalty by Charles Ogletree
Organizing to End Life Without Parole in Pennsylvania
In Loving Memory of Diane Hamill Metzger
July 1949 - January 2019
Rest in peace Diane. You will be greatly missed by so many friends and family members.
2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Daughter, Mother (Sheena), Son
Click on the picture to read Sheena's resume'.
Sheena is an aspiring writer who is serving a LWOP sentence at SCI Muncy; her memoir "Submerged" is available on Kindle from Amazon!