To submit a public comment to the Jail Oversight Board, please click here. The deadline for public comment is Sunday September 19.

Community Organizations, County Residents Call on the Jail Oversight Board to Ban Joseph Garcia and C–SAU from Allegheny County Jail

September 14, 2021

Jail Oversight Board

To the Honorable Members of the Jail Oversight Board,

As human rights advocates, community organizations, formerly incarcerated, and otherwise concerned members of Allegheny County, we hereby call on the Jail Oversight Board to take swift and decisive action to prohibit Joseph Garcia and his company, Corrections-Special Application Unit (C-SAU), from operating in Allegheny County Jail (ACJ).

We have come together to denounce the Warden Harper’s attempt to hire Joseph Garcia, and his…

On Monday September 6, 2021, six Palestinian political prisoners who were jailed by the settler-colonial Israeli occupation, liberated themselves from their unlawful detention. Mahmoud Ardah, Mohammed Ardah, Zakaria Zubaida, Ayham Kamamji, Yaqqub Qadr and Munadil Naf’at broke free from the clutches of the apartheid prison via a tunnel dug below Gilboa prison, where they were illegitimately confined.

In response to the escapes, Israel has launched a series of retaliatory measures and collective punishment against Palestinian political prisoners and their family members. This includes: arbitrarily assaulting incarcerated Palestinians, withholding meals, ransacking prison cells with attack dogs, and kidnapping and detaining relatives…

The following statement was issued in coordination with Philly Anti-Repression on June 1, 2021 by members of the Vaughn 17 and other incarcerated community members subjected to abuse, neglect, and solitary confinement at SCI-Phoenix.

For those who are new to the Vaughn 17’s struggle for self-liberation, here is some context: On February 1, 2017, incarcerated community members confined in Delaware’s largest prison, the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, staged an uprising and took over Building C. Prisoners took guards hostage and called the media, bringing international attention to the prison’s overuse of solitary confinement and demanded humane living conditions, rehabilitation…

This verdict is not about “justice.” This verdict is not about “accountability.”

This verdict is a testament to the political force of the masses, of colonized peoples, in the face of state-sanctioned terror.

It’s about making it known to all cops trembling in their boots, “You are not welcome here.”

But our challenge is not to pursue the conviction of one racist cop. Our challenge is to carry out the total dissolution of police and racial capitalism — to manifest the unfinished project of absolute freedom, to sustain and live out Abolition.

As you read this, the National Guard has…

This is a first in a series of articles by Abolitionist Law Center’s Executive Director Robert Saleem Holbrook on the day to day practices of Abolition and the influences of the Black Radical Tradition on Abolitionist practices within the Pennsylvania prison system.

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” — Audre Lorde

I was struck by Audre Lorde’s quote a couple days ago during a conversation around decarceration and abolition. I came to abolition by necessity, not by choice. When I was 16-years-old, was arrested and subsequently sentenced to life without parole. A death by incarceration sentence. My…

The End of Cash Bail: Statement from ALC Court Watch

We seek the abolition of cash bail in Allegheny County — and everywhere else in the US colonial project.

We believe cash bail contributes to a violent system of apartheid policing and punishment, and exacerbates economic precarity and poverty by governance thru debt.

We recognize cash bail as a feature of racial capitalism that benefits white people, the ruling class, and state power thru parasitic exploitation and dispossession of Black people and poor community members — not as a legitimate pretrial condition for securing one’s appearance in court.

We observe the wild inconsistencies of how cash bail is imposed among magistrates, revealing a crisis of legitimacy in their courts; since there is no standard, the financial and carceral fates of community members are merely entropic.

We reject the use of surveillance, algorithmic violence, and predictive policing, which rely on risk assessment “formulas” that are inherently anti-Black; these practices are often offered up as “alternatives” to cash bail thus co-opting initial abolitionist demands.

We situate our objective of abolishing cash bail within our larger protracted goals of ending state violence and transitioning from a punitive paradigm to one that centers healing, accountability, and community power.

– ALC Court Watch, January 6, 2021

by Dolly Prabhu, Staff Attorney for The Abolitionist Law Center

A shortened version of this article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s op-ed section on January 3, 2021.

On Friday December 18, 2020, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Editorial Board published an article criticizing activists for calling to defund the Pittsburgh police. It claimed that we actually need more police, and that decreasing the police budget would result in less public safety and increased crime — assertions that were backed by the following pieces of evidence: “Duh” and “Duh, squared.”

If the Editorial Board had bothered to actually research this issue, it perhaps…

by William Lukas for The Abolitionist Law Center

When we mourn for Aaliah Denise Johnson, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, Riah Milton, Dominique Rem’mie Fells, Mia Green, and every Black Trans life taken this year, we are reminded that prior to the Atlantic slave trade and New World organization of racial capitalism thru colonization, christianization, chattel slavery, and gendered labor division, Black Trans people existed and thrived in tribes across Africa and the Global South.

We are reminded that Black Trans people were part of the first rebellions against slaveowners and plantations against white mobs and police during Reconstruction and the…

Today we are collectively mourning the life of Walter Wallace Jr.

Walter was murdered by the Philadelphia Police Department in West Philadelphia, yesterday October 26, 2020.

Walter was among our many vulnerable community members in need of help, but instead of being met by crisis intervention and support, Walter was struck by almost a dozen bullets by police.

In front of his mother and West Philly residents who plead the cops not to shoot.

The residents of West Philadelphia took to the streets last night in an act of rage and resistance against the racist police and state violence that claimed Walter Wallace’s life. …

by Maya Nojechowicz

As the coronavirus pandemic persists and spreads in prisons across the world, calls have grown nationally and in Pennsylvania for the release of high-risk incarcerated people, including those over sixty, all pregnant women, and those with serious medical conditions. Where the state should be acting quickly to save lives, its response has been lackluster and rife with delays. Nowhere is this more apparent than at SCI Fayette, a prison near the southwestern Pennsylvanian town of LaBelle that was built in 2003 on millions of tons of coal waste, next door to a coal ash dump.

The already…

Abolitionist Law Center

ALC is a nonprofit law firm fighting to protect prisoners, and a community organizing project aiming to build a world without prisons.

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