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A break into prison

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When a group of legislators in the Pennsylvania State Assembly heard testimony read from the following letter, a small group of them descended on the State Correctional Institution in Somerset.

According to inmates, no one there had ever experienced anything quite like it before.

The prison ‘erupted’. The staff was unprepared and scrambled. And among the inmates, a different kind of ‘riot’ broke out: what happens when people who are by and large abandoned suddenly find out that some people — authorities in particular — really do care for something besides, and more than for, themselves. They cheered in elation.

One eyewitness account of the visit said that after the legislators interviewed the inmate in question, they went behind closed doors with the staff and ‘let them have it’, practically guns a’blazing.

Click here to read the Executive Director’s letter dated May 29, 2003 to Attorney Earnest Preate. Mr. Preate presented the letter before a committee of the the State Assembly days after receiving it from NCCL.

Mr. Preate, a former (republican) Attorney General of Pennsylvania under (democratic) pro-life Governor Robert Casey, was once an inmate himself, and now advocates for prisoners with Justice & Mercy.

Click here to read a letter dated June 12, 2003 on the same issue: this one from Attorney Preate to an official of the State’s Department of Corrections.


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