Haverford Students and Alumni Advance Decarceration Advocacy
Building on programming across campus and in the community, Haverford students and alumni are playing key roles in the growing Free People Strike.
Free People Strike (FPS) is a multi-racial collection of individuals and organizations who have either been directly impacted by incarceration or who strongly believe that no human being should live or die in a cage. The coalition has issued several demands, though during the Coronavirus pandemic focus has gathered around working to get Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to implement his April 10 reprieve order and to shut down the Berks Family Detention Center.
FPS has recently received coverage from Spotlight PA, Metro Philly, the York Daily Record, and WBAI-NY. According to student organizers, the Hunger Strike has focused on putting the burden of hunger striking on people who have the luxury and privilege of living on the outside of prisons. This week, they indicated that out of 21 total hunger strikers, three current or former Haverford students have joined for a total of 17 days. Some of the strikers have gone for as long as ten days, and one struck for almost one month. Out of at least 50 people who have joined the 1-day solidarity fasts, ten current and former Haverford students have participated.
These student commitments stem from ongoing partnerships with activists inside and outside of prisons who are working to advance decarceration. Often, Haverford students are introduced to this work by ReThink Incarceration, a student group dedicated to educating the community about the injustices of the United States prison system.
The Center for Peace and Global Citizenship has also supported increasing understanding of decarceration and its vital role in realizing human rights through a variety of programming and student opportunities. Recently these efforts have included sponsoring a screening of Pull of Gravity, developing teaching and learning resources on decarceration in the Philadelphia region, co-sponsoring or promoting Rethink Incarceration's numerous campus events, and more. With its summer Fellowship program, the CPGC has supported student internships with a breadth of decarceral organizations including Abolition Law Center. And through long-standing relationships held by folks associated with the CPGC, Haverford staff members, students, and faculty have learned about restorative justice, decarceration, and much more from individuals inside State Correctional Institute-Phoenix in Collegeville, PA. Decarceral work also intersects with numerous other student, CPGC, and College initiatives, internships, and partnerships, as advancing migrant rights in our region, for example, is fundamentaly connected to the Shut Down Berks Coalition.