Decarcerate PA is looking for new planning committee members!

Decarcerate PA is a grassroots organization working to end mass incarceration in Pennsylvania. We formed in the spring of 2011 when a group of individuals and organizations came together to oppose a $685 million expansion of Pennsylvania’s state prison system. Over the years our work has taken many forms, including organizing and coordinating rallies,  writing articles and op eds, participating in civil disobedience on the grounds of a new prison construction site, marching 113 miles to Harrisburg, and participating in a coalition that stopped the building of a new jail in Philly. Currently we are focused on two campaigns, one to end death by incarceration (aka life without parole) in PA and the other to end cash bail, as well as decarcerate and close city jails.

We are an all volunteer organization looking to expand our capacity and strengthen our work by bringing new members into our core group of organizers. The Planning Committee, which is DPA’s primary decision-making body outside of prison (we also have an Inside Advisory Board made up of incarcerated organizers) currently has nine regular members. 

We believe that now -- perhaps more than ever -- grassroots organizations fighting incarceration and repression are essential. To sustain DPA’s work, we are hoping to add six new members to the Planning Committee in 2018! We are looking for people who are willing to devote a substantial amount of time and energy to Decarcerate PA in the coming year. Each month DPA members typically attend a planning meeting and a letter writing event. Additionally, we each usually attend meetings several times a month to work on specific projects or as part of coalitions that Decarcerate PA is a member of, such as: CADBI (Coalition to End Death By Incarceration), #No215Jail Coalition, Philly Community Bail Fund, and the Coalition for a Just DA, to name a few.  

We’re looking for people who are able to and excited to make a similar level of commitment. We are specifically looking for people who currently have or are interested in developing skills in: organizing, outreach, bookkeeping/finances, writing and media, policy and advocacy work, social media, graphic design, and fundraising. You do not need to have any previous experience in doing any of these tasks; we will provide training and support in areas that you are interested in learning more about.

You can apply to join the planning committee by clicking here. Applications are due by July 31. If you have trouble with the online form or would prefer to fill out a paper copy, please contact us at 267.217.3372. You can read more about us, and about the process, below. 

One year ago, we brought in a small cohort of people through a similar process. We have learned and grown tremendously through and because of that experience. We’re looking forward to welcoming more people into the Planning Committee and continuing to grow our family of organizers and organizations that are working together to end mass incarceration.

The Planning Committee is just one way to get involved (or stay involved) in DPA. We know that many people are not able to make the kind of time commitment we are asking for in joining the planning committee. If you are interested in learning about other ways to get involved in DPA or our campaigns, please reach out to us!   

If you are interested in potentially making this commitment, please read on for more background information and our application and orientation process.

In love and struggle,

Decarcerate PA

APPLICATION & ORIENTATION PROCESS

DPA’s current status:

Our current Planning Committee is comprised of nine people. Right now, a majority of us are white folks, some of us are people of color, and many of us identify as queer. We have various gender identities and class backgrounds, and varying relationships to incarceration. Planning Committee members are dedicated to organizing in deep collaboration and coalition with people who are currently incarcerated or have been directly impacted by incarceration. We also have an advisory board of people who are currently incarcerated in PA’s prisons (see below for descriptions of our campaign work and inside-outside organizing model).

What we’re looking for:

You should consider joining the planning committee if you:

  • Are someone who has been directly impacted by incarceration or are someone who wants to fight to end mass incarceration as an ally or accomplice in that struggle. People of color and formerly incarcerated people and their family members are especially encouraged to apply.

  • Believe that the fight to end mass incarceration is deeply connected to the fight to end racism and white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, homophobia and transphobia,, and imperialism in its various forms, and are in agreement with ourPoints of Unity.

  • Are willing to commit to attending a monthly planning meeting and letter writing event and are committed to living and deepening relationships in the Philadelphia area for the foreseeable future, since we believe that organizing is most effective/ powerful when relationship-building within the movement is centered.

If you join the DPA planning committee, some areas of work you might be trained on and participate in collectively could include:

  • Coordinating correspondence and engaging in relationship building and strategic planning with inside members and contacts

  • Making reminder and check-in phone calls to outside members who are part of our campaigns, as well as canvassing to grow the campaigns

  • Joining the finance committee and helping manage our funds & resources -- most of which support our campaign work and correspondence with inside members

  • Helping plan and execute committee work, actions, and legislative visits for varied campaign-related work

  • Supporting the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration (CADBI) by participating in local and statewide organizing to end Death By Incarceration (also known as Life Without Parole) and fight for racial and economic justice

  • Building community power to push local policy makers to end cash bail in Philadelphia and decarcerate the Philly jails.

  • Corresponding with and being a liaison for a member of our Inside Advisory Board

  • Creating media by writing op-eds and creating social media campaigns

  • Helping with our periodic newsletter

  • Responding to email, voicemails, and coordinating engagements

Logistics:

  • Decarcerate PA’s Planning Committee meetings happen on the second Monday of every month at 6pm.

  • Our monthly letter writing marathon occurs on the fourth Saturday of every month from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.

  • Campaign and coalition work happens during a wide variety of times every week.

  • The new member orientation/political education sessions will happen monthly on Sundays for several months in the late summer and fall (exact dates and times TBD).

  • No one is expected to attend every meeting and event! However, we are looking for folks who will be able to attend these meetings and events with some degree of regularity.

How to Apply!

Great, you got to the end of this document and you still want to be part of DPA Planning Committee! We are very excited about this!

Please fill out our application by July 31. You can access the online version of the application here.

If we think it’s a good fit we’ll have a one-one conversation with you. Then we will have a welcome dinner and orientation for everyone who has agreed to be a new member.

We will also hold a once a month orientation and political education series this summer/fall for all DPA members! There is no need to have any previous knowledge in political education to engage -- this is a chance for all of us to build and learn together.

If you’re interested in getting involved in DPA but aren’t able to make such a substantial commitment at this time, there are lots of other ways to get involved. Please reach out to us to learn more! You can contact us by email at decarceratepa@gmail.com, or by phone at 267-217-3372.

Some background on Decarcerate PA

What is Decarcerate PA?

Decarcerate PA was founded in 2011 when a group of individuals and organizations came together to oppose a $685 million expansion of Pennsylvania’s state prison system at the same time as millions were being slashed from the education budget. We unified under a three point platform of 1) no new prisons, 2) decarceration, and 3) community reinvestment. Our first campaign centered on stopping the construction of two new prisons being built in Montgomery County called Phoenix East and West.While the Phoenix campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, the effort brought together individuals and organizations who are committed to fighting mass incarceration for the long haul.

During the final phases of the effort to stop the Phoenix project, we decided to focus our energies on strategic campaign work in coalition with organizations led by individuals who are directly impacted by mass incarceration. This led to the development of what became the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration (CADBI) and the #No215Jail campaign. We also began “formalizing” our relationships with our comrades inside of prison by creating an Inside Advisory Board.

Right now, Decarcerate PA’s work centers around three major areas:

Supporting our campaigns. Decarcerate PA is part of two coalitional campaigns, the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration and #No215Jail. We are also part of the Coalition for a Just DA and the Community Bail Fund. We provide material resources, labor power, and analysis to these efforts.

Building public support for ending mass incarceration. Decarcerate PA works to both popularize and deepen a commitment to ending mass incarceration and directing resources towards strengthening communities rather than tearing them apart. We use mainstream and social media, engage in creative direct action, cosponsor events, and support partner organizations to lift up a message that systemic change is necessary.

Inside-outside movement building. We believe that building a movement across prison walls is essential to ending mass incarceration, therefore providing the infrastructure for this is a critical part of our work. We host monthly letter writing events, collaborate with our Inside Advisory Board, and include people in prison in the campaigns and events in which we participate.

As we look to the future, we hope to grow our base, deepen our collective analysis, and support other organizing--nationally and locally.  We have committed to a process that supports new people coming into the movement, building both our collective resistance and our movement community.