National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT)
In order to take action on peacemaking and to end torture, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia are supporting members of NRCAT. The mission of NRCAT is to mobilize people of faith to end torture in U.S. policy, practice, and culture.
- Ensure that U.S.-sponsored torture of detainees never happens again.
- End the use of torture in U.S. prisons and detention facilities, in particular the use of prolonged solitary confinement.
- Promote U.S. policies that enable other countries to end their torture practices and advocate for an end of U.S. support (direct or indirect) of any country that engages in torture.
- End the bigotry and hatred that promotes the practice and acceptance of torture against religiously, ethnically, and other targeted groups.
PA Network Against Torture June 2016
Much of the work of the PA Network Against Torture has focused on solitary confinement. Twice a group of faith leaders have met with Secretary Wetzel to urge him to address the issue of solitary confinement in our state prisons. He has made some significant improvements in the area of mental health and is working to reduce the number of people with mental health issues from solitary confinement. He is also in the process of giving training to all the staff on identifying and working with people with mental health.
The PA Council of Churches held a major conference on mass incarceration in the fall of 2015 reaching people from around the state to gain further information on the various aspects of our criminal justice system, to explore options for actions and to make valuable contacts.
In April of 2016 the PA Network Against Torture gathered together a group of faith leaders from across the state to begin to explore networking and action to impact our mass incarceration system at the state level. This was facilitated by the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society. We are now in the process of looking at the next steps for this work. It is important to have a network of faith leaders and groups who can address policy at a State level especially on issues such as solitary confinement.
The group has also presented to Governor Wolfe a letter with signatures from faith leaders to work towards the abolishment of solitary confinement in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile a number of Healing Communities trainings are happening around the state which gives congregations and faith groups the opportunity to explore ways they can impact the system. Pittsburgh held two trainings and Harrisburg is in the process of holding a Healing Communities training for trainers. http://www.healingcommunitiesusa.com/
Scilla Wahrhaftig, PA Organizer for National Religious Campaign Against Torture