*** Originally posted August 9, 2016 *** Child lifers in Philadelphia are being manipulated into taking a plea-bargain that, in reality, still equals a LIFE sentence; and is not in the spirit of the Supreme Court’s Miller v. Alabama ruling that expressed the unconstitutionality of mandatory life sentencing for child offenders and the cruelty of not considering the many mitigated factors that causes a child to commit or participate in horrible crimes. During the ‘Seth Williams Have a Heart’ rally (Sponsored by the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration), on August 9th, members of CADBI brought public awareness to the fact that District Attorney Seth Williams was not, actually, living up to his word that he would no longer seek Life Without Parole for Child lifers. CADBI members were resilient in their protest of Seth Williams and Patricia Vickers (CADBI and Human Rights Coalition member) said that it is a manipulating move to offer a sentence of 35-to-Life as a plea-bargain; because 35-to-Life is still a LIFE sentence; also going in front of the Parole Board, well, it isn’t legal because by law, in Pennsylvania, a person who has a LIFE sentence cannot be paroled; in addition the mitigating circumstances haven’t been considered. The system labeled these children as “the worse of the worse” and “beyond redemption” and to date it continues to force that label on them even against the U.S. Supreme Court’s instruction. So guess what? The FEDERAL COURT is in direct agreement with CADBI’s view. Ten days later, AuIMG_9206gust 19th, a judge of the Federal Court ruled (in the case of Kempis “Ghani” Songster) that the way Seth Williams is handling the Juvenile Life With Out Parole (JLWOP) re-sentencing hearings is unconstitutional and does not follow the US Supreme Court’s ruling. “A sentencing practice that results in every juvenile’s sentence with a maximum term of life, regardless of the minimum term, does not reflect individualized sentencing,” Timothy J. Savage, District Court judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, wrote in both opinions. He added: “Passing off the ultimate decision to the Parole Board in every case represents an abdication of judicial responsibility and ignores the [Supreme Court’s] mandate.” Stand strong folks, cause we are another step closer in building a humane and redemptive society.
*** Originally posted May 2016 *** Sponsored by: Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration (CADBI) Photos By: Sandra Hill This Friday in the down pour of rain that didn’t let up the entire day, in honor of Mother’s Day, the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration (CADBI) held a powerful rally and press conference calling on the state of Pennsylvania to make compassion, redemption, and healing in our communities possible by recognizing the US Supreme Court mandate to provide fair and meaningful re-sentencing to the more than 500 children sentenced to die in prison here in PA. The rally shed light on this inhumane policy, and demanded immediate steps be taken to reunify our families and heal our communities. As CADBI member Patricia Vickers, whose son is serving a life sentence he received when he was 17, observed: “Pennsylvania sentences more young people to die in prison than any other state in the country,” said “We are holding this action the Friday before Mother’s Day to highlight how these sentences tear families apart. No mother should have to endure their child living an entire life behind bars.” Now, on Mother’s Day, we hope that you will take a moment to watch this short video of the event and to share it with others. In the words of Kempis “Ghani” Songster, who was sentenced to life in prison for a crime he committed when he was 15: “Only when all of us, our whole community families and friends of victims, families and friends of the condemned, and those who are themselves condemned take responsibility for solving our community’s problems will the healing begin.” You can also see photos of the rally here, and check out news coverage in the Metro, Newsworks, and Billy Penn. Huge thanks to everyone who helped make this rally happen. And to all the incarcerated mothers who have raised children from behind bars, to all the mothers who have stood by their children serving death by incarceration sentences, to all mothers and all people on both sides of the prison walls who have never given up the fight for freedom, justice and compassion, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Mother’s Day Rally To Restore Families and Communities and Bring our Loved Ones Home Friday, May 6, 2016 12-2 p.m. City Hall (Broad & JFK), Philadelphia, Pa BE THERE!
Pictured above: Duane Peters gives a thumbs up after a mistrial was declared Wednesday in the trial of three members of the ‘Dallas 6.’ Aimee Dilger | Times Leader Luzerne county jury refusing to convict is definitely a victory! “A win is a win,” said Carrington Keys, adding that the men plan to continue fighting their charges “all the way.” April 13th, 2016 at the Luzerne County Courthouse the jury could not come to a unanimous decision concerning the riot charges against Duane Peters, Andre Gay, and Carrington Keys. The jury informed Luzerne County Judge Lesa S. Gelb that they could not come to a unanimous verdict after about 3½ hours of deliberations. “We’re deadlocked,” the jury forewoman said. For the past six years the men have been fighting felony charges of rioting after they each covered their cell window on April 29, 2010, in the restricted housing unit (solitary confinement) at SCI- Dallas. Guards in riot gear forcibly extracted the men from their cells after they were given orders to remove the coverings from their cell doors and they did not comply. The Assistant District Attorney James McMonagle said in his closing statement, “The rule is you can’t cover your cell door.” In defense of the men attorney Michael Wiseman argued that covering cell doors may be a violation of prison rules, but it was not a riot. “It is absolutely obvious what their intent was,” Wiseman told jurors. “Their intent was to draw attention to their plight.” Andre Jacobs, who represented himself during the trial, testified that the guards were extremely abusive after a report was published by the Human Rights Coalition on abuse at SCI-Dallas. Andre said in his closing argument the situation at SCI Dallas was “toxic,” which forced him to file multiple grievances and complaints against guards. Andre said that he had covered his cell door at least five times in the past and had never received a cell extraction. “Considering it didn’t happen in those prior instances, you can conclude that wasn’t their policy and in this incident, that was what they wanted to do.” Andre argued that he may have violated prison rules, but he didn’t commit a crime. “I took an action on that day for my own safety,” he said. McMonagle said he informed District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis of the result and will sit down with the DA in the near future to determine whether prosecutors will retry the case. Click Here for article from Times Leader: https://www.timesleader.com/news/531227/hung-jury-leads-to-mistrial-for-members-of-dallas-6