Russell “Maroon ” Shoats, has been held in solitary confinement for far too long!
Please be part of this coordinated effort to get him into general population. Paste the form letter below into your word processor, insert your information wherever you see the brackets and capitals, print, sign, and send to Secretary Wetzel.
Human Rights Coalition -FedUp! Chapter
From: [YOUR NAME]
2520 Lisburn Road
PO Box 598
Camp Hill, PA 17001
I am writing your office today to express grave concern regarding an urgent human rights matter that requires your intervention. Russell Shoats (#AF-3855), a prisoner held at the State Correctional Institution Greene in southwestern Pennsylvania, has been kept in solitary confinement for more than 21 years, unable to hold his children or grandchildren or interact with others in a humane setting, despite not having violated prison rules in two decades. He has suffered severe psychological anguish and his physical health has been worsened by the stress of prolonged isolation.
This past year he was on the verge of being released from solitary confinement after the staff that he interacted with on a daily basis and top officials in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ Central Office approved a change in his custody status, but the prison’s Superintendent, Louis Folino, vetoed the release at the last minute.
Mr. Shoats has spent the last 39 years within the Pennsylvania prison system, and has earned a reputation amongst prison staff and prisoners both as a leader because of his being elected the President of the DOC-approved lifers organization at SCI Pittsburgh in 1982. While he did escape from a state institution more than 31 years ago, it is his role as an actual or potential leader that SCI Greene’s Superintendent Folino recently cited as the rationale for his continued lockdown in solitary. The PRC asserted that his past efforts at organizing prisoners and engaging in hunger strikes constituted a threat to the prison, despite the fact that Mr. Shoats has not engaged in any conduct violating prison rules in more than two decades.
Prison officials claim that Mr. Shoats is a security threat due to past escapes and attempts, though new evidence has surfaced suggesting that this determination was based substantially or in part upon secret and fraudulent evidence. It has recently come to our attention that classified information present in Mr. Shoats file for more than a quarter of a century that claimed he planned a takeover of a prison had been used as a confidential basis for holding him in solitary confinement. If that were true, it would not explain why he is the only prisoner being held in solitary on that basis unless it is also being alleged that he intended to take that action alone.
We are distressed that an elderly man who is nearing his 70th birthday continues to be treated in such a cruel manner based on his exercising of constitutionally-protected speech and in retaliation for his expressing political opinions disfavored by the prison administration. Not having committed an infraction in more than two decades reveals that Mr. Shoats is more than ready to re-enter the general prison population.
On behalf of Russell Shoats, his family, and community supporters, we ask you to initiate a probe into his continued warehousing in solitary confinement and assist human rights supporters in remedying this egregious wrong. We look forward to working with your office on this matter, and intend to remain in contact with you until this situation is addressed in accordance with fundamental norms of fairness and constitutional standards.