Open letter from the Philly Survivor Support Collective to SCI Rockview Superintendent Marirosa Lamas and Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel:
We are responding to a call from people incarcerated at SCI Rockview’s Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) whose human rights and safety are being violated by the prison’s lieutenants and guards. Prisoners at SCI Rockview are demanding investigation into a recent rise of abusive conditions including a pattern of routine sexual assault by guards, retaliation for using the internal grievance procedure, double-celling, excessive use of solitary confinement, and arbitrary placement on the restricted release list. These abuses violate the human rights of all people to physical safety and bodily integrity, whether we are incarcerated or not.
People incarcerated in the RHU at SCI Rockview have been attempting to access the official grievance procedure but are faced with threats and retaliation for voicing their objections. Because this single recourse has been taken from them, individuals in the unit have called for external support to shed light on and bring an end to the abuses they face.
The Philly Survivor Support Collective is a group based out of Philadelphia that is working to end sexual assault. We support individuals and communities who are healing from assaults, and work together to transform the conditions that allow sexual assault to be perpetrated and those who cause harm to remain unaccountable. We organize to create alternatives to the legal system for survivors seeking justice and safety, because we believe that police, prisons and the legal system all increase the violence in our communities.
The abuses being inflicted on people incarcerated at SCI Rockview have impact beyond the prison walls; they strengthen the conditions that condone sexual assault and allow it to continue to ravage all of our communities. We all deserve to live without being sexually assaulted, and to have access to the physical, economic and emotional resources that allow us to heal from assault when it does occur. We cannot hope to build a world free of sexual violence while people who are incarcerated are subjected to it with no recourse.
We urge you to investigate the abusive conditions at SCI Rockview’s RHU and take action to remove perpetrating officials from this prison. Everyone has a right to physical and emotional safety. Disregarding the abuses faced by people who are incarcerated at SCI Rockview is an unjust and inexcusable act of violence.
— Philly Survivor Support Collective