PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Advocates for re-entry are getting organized around a new political action committee. This PAC for those impacted by incarceration is hoping to elect the next district attorney.
It’s called the BLOC Party.
“It stands for build organize, lobby, campaign,” says J. Jondhi Harrel, co-founder of the Center for Returning Citizens.
He and Anthony Dickerson started what is believed to be Philadelphia’s first political action committee for the formerly incarcerated, incarcerated, their families, at-risk youth and anyone interested in criminal justice reform.
“Our goal to organize formerly incarcerated people to be the voice of all incarcerated people who wish to support our movement and most importantly for our at risk youth,” he says.
With roughly 300,000 people in Philadelphia with a criminal past, Harrell, who spent nearly a decade behind bars, believes returning citizens need to work together.
“I asked why aren’t we organized, why aren’t we organized, why don’t we have any power,” he says.
The BLOC Party was registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State in February. Now Harrell and their supporters, including rapper Freeway, are working to get funding from other PACs and from the community to send a message in May’s DA and judicial races. Their first endorsement goes to DA candidate Larry Krasner.
“He wants to end mass incarceration, stop seeking the death penalty, end stop and frisk,” says Harrell, “he’s a civil rights attorney who has always been on the side of the people.”
The BLOC Party will hold a formal announcement at 5 p.m. Thursday at Thomas Paine Plaza.