Last month, Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel and Governor Tom Wolf rolled out some of the most punitive anti-prisoner policies in the country.
Next week we have an opportunity to confront them both and demand the immediate repeal of these harmful policies.
On Wednesday October 10, Wolf will be appearing at a campaign fundraiser at the Yards Brewing Company at 500 Spring Garden from 6:30 to 8:30. We’ll be out front with signs and banners to show him the devastating impact these policies have on his constituents and to demand he repeal these policies immediately. Join us to demand that Wolf do the right thing!
On the very next night, Thursday October 11, Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel will be appearing at a town hall event hosted by the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus at 6pm at Yesha Ministries, 2308 Snyder Ave. The purpose of the town hall is specifically to address these policies. Have you or your loved ones been negatively impacted? Do you think Wetzel should repeal these policies immediately? Come let him know!
These new DOC policies violate prisoners’ rights, restrict access to educational materials, and surveil and delay people’s correspondence with loved ones on the outside.
If you are writing to someone in prison, all mail is now sent to a private company in Florida, where it is opened, scanned, and emailed to the prisons. At some point thereafter, copies of the mail are printed and delivered to the recipient. Originals are destroyed, while the scans are kept in a searchable database that the DOC has access to. Under this policy, people in prison will never again receive original photographs or actual holiday cards.
Legal mail is also now copied and given to the recipient, with the original — and highly sensitive — documents kept on file for 15 days. Body scanners and extra officers will be added to the visit rooms.
Access to books has been dramatically restricted, and people can no longer receive books either directly from the publisher or through free programs like Books Through Bars. Instead, people are forced to order their books directly from the limited and often pricy selection provided by the DOC.
These policy changes are costing the taxpayers of Pennsylvania $15 million. And they are cutting off critical avenues of communication and support between Pennsylvanians on both sides of the prison walls.
Please join us on Wednesday and Thursday to tell Governor Wolf and Secretary Wetzel that these policies must be immediately repealed!