Sunday, March 29, 2015

Press Release: Bridgeton Decarceration Panel Discussion

For Immediate Release
Contact: Bob Witanek 908-881-5275

Tour de Decarcerate – the traveling panel discussion of the statewide organization Decarcerate the Garden State is about to land in Bridgeton, NJ this Saturday, April 4.  The event is scheduled to occur at 3:30 pm at the Church of the Resurrection, formerly St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 186 E. Commerce Street.
From the flier announcing the event, the group states: “On the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, let his spirit kindle in our new civil rights struggle for decarceration.  Come to Bridgeton NJ to a panel discussion on fighting to Decarcerate the Garden State.”

The event will feature a key note presentation by Shesheena Bray. an education mentor for Philadelphia college students and a co-founder and organizer for The Philadelphia Coalition for R.E.A.L (Racial, Economic and Legal Justice).  She will give the historical back drop and broad over view of the mass incarceration issue.

A member of the newly founded Southwoods Family United organization, Renee Felton will address the event.  Renee Felton’s son Kwadir Felton was blinded for life by a police bullet when he was 18 and is now serving at South Woods for what the group considers “an unjust conviction.”

Gary Frazier founder and CEO of Camden Comeback will also address the event.

They will talk about the need for family involvement in the struggle to end mass incarceration.

Bridgeton has recently been beset by a controversial shooting by police of Jerame Reid who – per a video tape of the event – was attempting to surrender to  police with his hands up before he was shot dead.  Local civil rights leaders will provide an update on that situation.

There will be a presentation by local youth community member Shiquera Sierra on the “school to prison” pipeline and the need for youth engagement in the effort to end mass incarceration.

As usual at these events, there will also be a presentation by a member of Decarcerate the Garden State on the group’s 6-point action plan and a question and answer, audience participation portion of the event as well as other local discussion on needs of the Bridgeton community.

A particular focus of this panel will be organizing among families of the incarcerated and reaching out to the incarcerated themselves.  Decarcerate the Garden State members recently came to South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton to hand out letters inviting visitors to incarcerated persons to attend their April 4 event.  After handing a few letters out, they were largely thwarted by corrections officers as well as Bridgeton police.  The group is seeking legal representation to challenge what they see as the prevention of their “free expression” in their attempts to organize among visitors on prison grounds which they say is like “main street USA” on visitors day.

The event is timed at 3:30 pm to give an opportunity for afternoon visitors to get to the event which is just 2 miles from the prison.  They are offering rides to visitors from the prison which can be arranged by calling 908-881-5275.

At the panel discussion at the Church of the Resurrection, which is free and open to the public, there will be light refreshments.  For more details, interested persons are encouraged to call 908-881-5275.

Decarcerate the Garden State advocates the passage of the "NJ Decarceration Act" which would reduce NJ's state incarceration levels by 50% over 4 years.  

Decarcerate the Garden State has a Facebook group of over 600 members at:

There is a Facebook event at:  


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