Co-founder of the activist group Progressive Women of NEPA, Stephanie Bressler, joins other activist groups to seek dramatic reforms at the Lackawanna County Prison, Pennsylvania. Bressler is working through the frequent meetings of the Lackawanna County Prison Board to push for changes at the correctional center.
The advocacy for these changes became escalated when seven prison guards were arrested on February 14 on allegations of sexual misconduct with female inmates. Established in December 2016, the Progressive Women of NEPA has pushed for several prison reforms that directly affect incarcerated women.
That same December, Scranton attorney Mathew Comerford had represented several female inmates in a lawsuit accusing prison guards of sexual molestation.
Progressive Women Presents Demands to Lackawanna County Prison Board
Working with the board to advance their advocacy objectives, Progressive Women demands that the Lackawanna County Prison Board would be more forthcoming in some given areas:
- Institute reforms to curb sexual harrassment of incarcerated women
- Offer female inmates the same money-earning opportunities that male prisoners have
- Reinstatement of its GED program
- Consider approving certain prison contracts, including inmates’ medical services
- Demonstrate total transparency in the board’s dealing
To establish that the group’s efforts have been yielding fruits, the prison board enabled incarcerated women at the facility to access higher paying. They also allowed bids for medical contracts at the prison center.
And to substantiate this, Warden Tim Betti disclosed he will soon put forward a request to use money in the prison canteen account to reinstate the scrapped GED program which could educate up to 80 inmates every year.
Other Advocacy Groups Demand For Fairness for Incarcerated Inmates
Another Progressive Women co-founder, Jean Harris, urges the group and the board to do more to ensure that prisoners live a healthier life inside prison facilities. According to the Tribune, Harris said:
“A large percentage of the inmates in the prison have not been found guilty of anything. They’re there because they couldn’t afford bail, unlike the prison guards who were charged (for sexual misconducts). We’re talking about basic human needs and rights.”
Matt Clemente, co-founder of NEPA Prison Advocates and a defense attorney as well as Luzerne County public defender said it would be imperative for the Lackawanna County Prison to implement the Hippocratic Oath for the sake of prison loved ones. Clemente said:
“We’re not saying that prison should be a happy experience. It’s punishment, but it shouldn’t be torture. We shouldn’t be breaking people who are broken to begin with.”