From Prison to Freedom

This Saturday members of the Coalition to Abolish Death by img_1097Incarceration-West are hosting a break out session at this years Summit for Racial Justice.

Saturday January 26th
at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
616 N Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Breakout session: 1 (10:25 am – 11:25 am)
Room: Long 204 (capacity 48)

From Prison to Freedom:
Building Pathways Home

The Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration (CADBI-West) invites you to join us in a workshop/skill share in supporting people transitioning home from prison. Topics covered include navigating homeplans, commutation applications, support letters, housing and employment on release. CADBI-West is comprised of returning citizens, family members of people in prison and community advocates.

There will be a brief panel then small group discussions to delve deeper into different areas of interest.

Carol Speaks – CADBI-West’s newly appointed community organizer shares overview of the work of Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration –
contact: ms.c.speaks[at]
Alan Lewandowski – CABDI-West shares reflections on PA’s commutation process, one of the only pathways for peoples sentenced to death by incarceration to come home.
contact: alanlewandowski67[at]
etta cetera Let’s Get Free shares tips on writing letters of support before people return home and help with commutation applications.
contact: letsgetfreepa[at]
Ricky Olds from The Real Deal shares insights of returning home after 37 years.
Contact: ricky.olds[at] Available for speaking engagements. Learn more about Ricky here.
Ronna Davis founder of Za’kiyah House – a recovery house for returning citizens in Homewood. contact: zakiyahhouse [at] Facebook @ZakiyahHouse
Rachelle Quinn – Employment Specialist with East Side Neighborhood Employment Center: 412-362-8580 rachelle[at]

CADBI-West is the Western PA arm of the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration. Our founding meeting was September 25 of 2017. The founding organizations are Fight for Lifers West, The Abolitionist Law Center, Let’s Get Free, HRC-Fedup and POORLAW.

We’re Hiring a Community Organizer!!

Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration – West, Pittsburgh Chapter

Job Announcement – Community Organizer

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The Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration – West (CADBI-West), based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is hiring a community organizer. CADBI-West organizes for an end to life-without-parole sentences, which we refer to as “Death By Incarceration” (DBI). We believe that death by incarceration is a human rights violation and an affront to the humanity of us all. The group is made up of family and friends of those serving DBI and other prison sentences; formerly incarcerated people; currently incarcerated people; and others who recognize that ending DBI is an important part of the fight against mass incarceration and for social justice.

The community organizer’s job responsibilities will include:

  • Building and mobilizing membership in CADBI-West, focusing on organizing the families of those serving DBI, formerly incarcerated people, and those communities most impacted by mass incarceration.
  • Communications work, including outreach to and coalition building with allied organizations; use of social media and media to communicate CADBI-West plans and accomplishments; media outreach.
  • Public education and voter engagement: organizing events to educate about DBI sentences and advocate for parole eligibility for all serving DBI sentences; the positions of various elected officials and candidates for political offices on DBI sentencing and related issues.
  • Coordinating CADBI-West meetings: sending reminders to members and volunteers, organizing phone calls to stay in touch with members.
  • Strategic planning and organizing with CADBI chapters around the state – there are chapters in Philadelphia, Reading, York, Chester, Delaware, and Harrisburg.

Applicants with these skills and experiences encouraged to apply:

  • Formerly incarcerated and family members of incarcerated people
  • Experience as a community organizer or activist in campaigns or movements for social justice; experience around issues of policing or prisons a plus.
  • Able to use or quickly learn Microsoft word and excel; familiar with social media usage; ability to learn or familiarity with e-newsletter platforms; familiarity with basic office technology such as scanners and printers.
  • Must be well-organized and pay close attention to detail.
  • Able to work well with people.
  • Serious dedication to abolishing death by incarceration.

Applicants must submit the following:

  • Cover letter explaining why you are applying for this position
  • 3 references, 2 professional, 1 personal
  • Resume
  • Email all materials to


  • Applications are due no later than December 21, 2018.

Job pays $15 per hour; 30 hours per week for approximately 7.5 months

Rally for SB942 at Juneteenth Parade


Folks from CADBI-West will be participating in the Juneteenth parade and uplifting Senate Bill 942 alongside Senator Street, one of the bill’s cosponsors. Senate Bill 942 is an important piece of legislation that has the ability to end the life without parole sentence in Pennsylvania. Join CADBI – West at the Juneteenth Parade in Pittsburgh to raise awareness of and build support for this bill!

When: Saturday June 23rd, starts at 10:00 am

Where: The parade begins at Freedom Corner (Crawford Ave & Centre Ave), and will end at Point State Park.

Who, what, and why: CADBI – West will be at Senator Street’s tent in Point State Park. There will be an open mic there where families of incarcerated people can share their stories, and we will be raising awareness about SB942, HB135 and Death by Incarceration in Pennsylvania.

Facebook event page for the event

Join us for a Panel Discussion & Meet and Greet with 3 Returning Citizens

We are so excited to bring Paulette Carrington, Sharif Boyd and Troy David to Pittsburgh!! All three have been released from life sentences in the past year. 


Join us  Saturday January 20th, 2018
12:45pm – 2:15pm
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 616 N. Highland, East Liberty
Room  204 in the Long Hall

Make sure to get the group rate by listing CADBI when you register. Pay what you can. Sliding Scale ($10 suggested)

The Struggle to End Death by Incarceration in PA 

Over 5,300 Pennsylvanians are sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, otherwise known as death-by-incarceration (DBI). DBI  sentences deny the basic humanity of those serving this sentence, permanently exclude people from their families and communities, exacerbate the trauma and effects of violence, and impact communities of color even more disproportionately than other aspects of the criminal legal system. This panel will consist of three formerly incarcerated people who were released in the last year. They have collectively served 106 years in prison. We will focus on the need to end DBI sentences, the panelists experiences serving DBI sentences and transitioning back to life outside of prison, as well as experiences with the criminal legal system.

Panelists: Paulette Carrington sentenced to DBI at 16, served 40 years, Troy David sentenced to DBI at 17, served 33 years, Sharif Boyd sentenced to DBI at 16, served 36 years.

Facilitators: Yusef Jones and Tiffany Sizemore Thompson Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration (CADBI-West)

Sunday January 21  – 1 – 3pm  Meet & Greet  at the Thelma Lovette YMCA in the Hill 2114 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 
Join us for casual conversation, connecting and breaking bread. Come meet Paulette, Troy, Sharif and the newly formed Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration
 Let’s Build!  There will be light food and refreshments. 



Rally for Redemption in Harrisburg October 25, 2017

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Members of Pittsburgh Crew on steps outside Harrisburg Capital Buidling


By Glenn E. Martin published on Medium, October 30, 2018

On Labor Day 2017, Giovanni Jerry Reid of Philadelphia was released from Graterford Prison in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He had served 26 years of a life sentence without possibility of parole, imposed when he was only 16 years old. On that warm, sunny morning, as he took his very first steps as a free adult, Giovanni was greeted by his family, his friends, and his lawyer in an emotional reunion. Giovanni Reid is not the first, nor will he be the last “juvenile lifer” to leave prison behind. There is a quiet drama unfolding in Pennsylvania as more than 500 men and 10 women, many now in their 50s and 60s, are re-sentenced. Many will return to their communities. Read More Here


People rally in Harrisburg against life without parole
WRITTEN BY JIM LEWIS in the Reading Eagle
Thursday October 26, 2017 12:01 AM

HARRISBURG – To his mother, Felix Rosado, a Reading man serving a life sentence for a 1995 murder, is redemption personified, an example of why Pennsylvania’s 5,100 lifers should get a chance at parole.

In his 22 years in prison, Rosado has earned a liberal arts degree from Villanova University, and wants to be free to share his story with troubled youths, said Iris Drey of Reading, who visits her son twice a month at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, where he’s imprisoned.At the age of 18, Rosado pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for the shooting death of Hiep Q. Nguyen, 24, whose body was found in a car. Drey blames drugs and the wrong crowd as factors in her son’s life.Rosado has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that his attorney failed to tell him he could plead guilty to third-degree murder if he admitted to an “intoxication defense.”Lower courts have ruled against him, but his mother hopes two new bills introduced this week in the Pennsylvania Legislature will one day give her son a chance at parole, at freedom.

Drey joined a large crowd, mostly inmates’ families, at a rally Wednesday for the bills, one in the Senate and another in the House, that would give inmates serving life sentences a chance at parole after serving 15 years.Supporters say life sentences are inhuman, and deny inmates who are rehabilitated a chance to contribute to society. Freeing those inmates who deserve parole also would save taxpayers money, they say.Drey is certain her son, now 40, has shown that he has earned freedom.”He’s changed a lot,” she said. “He learned his lesson a long time ago, and he’s waiting for an opportunity to give back.”

Capitol Rotunda packed

The rally drew a large number of supporters, many of them members of the Philadelphia-based Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration. They filled the Capitol Rotunda and marched through the hallways, singing songs in an attempt to sway legislators.

Among the rally’s speakers were the legislators who are sponsoring the bills and Rosado, who has become one of the voices for reform. Speaking from a phone in cellblock B of Graterford and amplified by speakers into the Rotunda, Rosado decried the hopelessness of life in prison and “the unrecognized potential trapped behind prison walls.””Let’s do something different – let’s live, let us bring light instead of death,” he told the crowd. “We have damage to repair, and we’re ready to pull our sleeves up.”

Pennsylvania has the second-highest number of inmates serving life sentences, a number that defies society’s belief in redemption, said Sen. Sharif Street, a Philadelphia Democrat who is one of the sponsors a bill introduced Monday to allow for parole after 15 years behind bars.”There comes a point in time when people have to be forgiven,” Street said. “We have to be a society like all other civilized societies that understands redemption and correction is what our criminal justice system is for.”Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams, president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, said that he hadn’t seen the bills. The association will review them and take a position in the future, he said.”
Our focus is to represent the victims and their families and also make certain that the defendants are held accountable for their actions,” Adams said. “This legislation seems to want to circumvent holding people accountable for their behavior.”Inmates currently can appeal for a commutation of their sentence by the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, Adams said, though he acknowledged that commutations “apparently are rarely granted any longer.”

Twenty-five nations have declared life without parole unconstitutional, and parolees have low rates of recidivism, many becoming peer educators, according to the coalition.Taxpayers would save money if lifers who qualified for parole were to be freed, the coalition says: It costs an average of $42,000 a year to incarcerate someone in a Pennsylvania prison.”Maybe (life without parole) worked in old times, but now it’s the time to reevaluate this thing and see what works,” said Rep. Joanna McClinton, a Philadelphia Democrat who supports the House version of a bill to give lifers a chance at parole.

phi's mom.jpg‘Free my son’

Of Pennsylvania’s 5,100 lifers, 65 percent are black and 8.5 percent are Latino, and the racial disproportion can be a factor in whether people outside cities are willing to consider parole eligibility for inmates, some supporters said.

“They literally think our loved ones are savage animals,” said Lorraine Haw, a Philadelphia mother whose son is serving a life sentence. “We all make mistakes – they’re just paying with their lives for theirs.”At the rally, Drey held a handmade sign, fashioned from letter-sized paper and ink pen, that read, “Free my son.”While she’s attended other rallies by the coalition, she has not lobbied Berks County legislators on the issue, at least not yet.”People who did not go through what I went through, they don’t care,” she said.