Statewide Harm Reduction Coalition and Jail/Prison Moratorium Endorsers
American Civil Liberties Union – Massachusetts (Moratorium Endorser) . American Friends Service Committee - National . American Friends Service
Committee - NE Region . American Friends Service Committee - Western MA . Felix Arroyo, Boston City Council . ARISE for Social Justice . BAGLY .
Center for Popular Economics . Chuck Turner, Boston City Council . Citizens for Participation in Political Action . Community Change, Inc. – Boston .
Community Church of Boston . Connecticut River Valley Green-Rainbow Party . Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard School of Law (Moratorium
Endorser) . Critical Resistance . Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts . Efficacy . Freedom Center . Grammas for Ganja . Holyoke Girls, Inc. .
Jericho – Boston . Peter Kocot, 1st Hampshire District Rep. (Moratorium Endorser) . Mass. Welfare Rights Union . Out Now . Paloma House . Prison
Book Program – Quincy . Prison Book Project – Western MA . Root 9 Collective . Springfield Catholic Workers . Survivors Inc. . Through Barbed
Wire . Tom Mooney Local Socialist Party USA . UAW Local 2322 . Western Massachusetts International Action Center/Troops Out Now .
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom - Boston
For Immediate Release: March 13, 2006
Contact: Holly Richardson
Statewide Harm Reduction Coalition (SHaRC)
With Liberty and Justice for Some: Incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment
CHICOPEE, MA – On Thursday, March 16, 2006 at 9:00am, organizers and allies of the Statewide Harm Reduction
Coalition (SHaRC) will gather for the seventh demonstration to resist the construction of the new Chicopee women’s jail
(701 Center Street). While previous gatherings have focused on open space, healthcare, low-income housing, positive
jobs creation, and education, this protest will draw attention to racism within the prison and criminal justice industries.
There are currently over 2 million people locked up in jails and prisons across the United States. The “land of the free”
now incarcerates more people than anywhere else in the world. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, as of June
2004, the US incarceration rate was 726 per 100,000 residents. However, when you break down the statistics you see
that incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment. For instance, in 2004, incarceration rates were for Whites, 393
per 100,000; Latinos: 957 per 100,000; and Blacks: 2,531 per 100,000.
Michael Hall, Youth Community Organizer from Out Now and SHaRC understands these statistics. “I’m an African-
American male. I understand this as well as anyone. I have 4 older brothers, all of whom have been in and out of jail.
One just went back to jail last week. I’m the first in my family to graduate high school and go on to college. I know what
I’m up against.” Christopher Rios, also of Out Now adds, “My high school teachers haven’t had contracts for years and
the money that does get spent on our schools goes into surveillance cameras and metal detectors rather than books; and,
in the meantime, three miles down the road there is enough money to keep the construction of a new jail going smoothly.
What’s wrong with that picture?”
“It is just unbelievable to me that a new jail is being built in Chicopee while the people of my community can barely
survive,” states Solobia Hutchins, Arise for Social Justice/SHaRC. “In Springfield, they just keep talking about putting
more and more money into policing to address issues of crime. Doesn’t anyone get it? The police are not seen as
‘protectors’ in poor communities or communities of color; and especially to our young African-American brothers. The
police racially profile us, arrest us, send us into a court system that’s generally against us then we’re sent off to jail,” adds
“There are great human costs too,” says local Social Worker/SHaRC member, Kimberly Milberg. “The wasted lives,
wrecked families, and the resulting traumatized and troubled children — are all immeasurable factors we see taking a toll
on the already weakened poor communities and communities of color,” Milberg adds.
Jo Comerford, AFSC/SHaRC states, “The War on Drugs has perhaps been the single greatest force behind the growth of
the prison population, with the number of incarcerated drug offenders seeing a twelve-fold increase since 1980. In 2000,
22% of those in federal and state prisons were convicted on drug charges; and, even more troubling than the general
number of persons in prison is the extent to which those men and women are African-American. Although blacks account
for only 12% of the U.S. population, 44% of all prisoners in the United States are black.” Andrea Hornbein, Community
Church of Boston/SHaRC adds, “And, the percentages are no better in our county jails, where a majority of those
incarcerated are convicted of drug and drug-related charges, are serving sentences of less than 2.5 years, and are
disproportionately people of color. It’s time to awaken all of our communities to these facts!”