Lawyers for Russell Maroon Shoatz demand an End to Solitary

MEDIA RELEASE: Lawyers for Russell Maroon Shoatz demand an end to nearly 30 years of solitary confinement. Request comes on the heels of Shoatz’s transfer to a different prison

Contact:     Bret Grote                412-654-9070

Theresa Shoatz            267-456-7882

April 8, 2013: Pittsburgh PA —  Lawyers for Russell “Maroon” Shoatz sent a letter to Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel today, demanding that the government end the solitary confinement of their client. Maroon is a 69-year-old former Black Panther, imprisoned author and intellectual who has been locked in solitary confinement at various State Correctional Institutions (SCI) for more than 22 consecutive years (and 28 of the past 30 years).

Maroon continues to be held in conditions of 23-24 hour solitary confinement in a tiny concrete and steel cell at SCI Mahanoy, despite having an exemplary disciplinary record for the past 23 years.

Dan Kovalik, one of the attorneys representing Maroon, said “This type of long-term solitary confinement can only be characterized as torture. It violates a growing international consensus against such confinement, and it violates the Constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment.”

The demand letter gives the PA Department of Corrections 30 days to release Maroon to the general prison population or face a federal civil rights lawsuit. Attorneys Stefanie Lepore and Rick Etter from the law firm Reed Smith, and Dustin McDaniel of the Abolitionist Law Center join Kovalik in representing Maroon.

Today also marks the beginning of a 30-day advocacy effort led by the Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz. Endorsers such as the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, the Northeast Region of the American Friends Service Committee, and the Human Rights Coalition are joining the call-and-write-in campaign to demand that the PA DOC release Maroon from solitary confinement and into the general prison population.

Maroon’s daughter Theresa Shoatz said, “It is long past time that the unconscionable torture of my father be brought to an end. We intend to keep up relentless advocacy until he is released into the general population, and is able to embrace his family for the first time in more than 20 years.”

These actions come on the heels of Maroon’s transfer from SCI Greene to SCI Mahanoy on March 28, 2013. The transfer itself occurred less than two weeks after the publication of his first book: Maroon the Implacable: The Collected Writings of Russell Maroon Shoatz.


One thought on “Lawyers for Russell Maroon Shoatz demand an End to Solitary

  1. It is time for the United States to take over the prison system or institute far upgraded guidelines. The European prison systems in Scandinavia can be held up as models for those which truly attempt to rehabilitate a person. Even those who have committed the most vile crimes deserve to be treated as human beings. Excessive years of solitary confinement is indeed inhumane and tortuous. It needs to be stopped and reserved for only the most egregious and uncontrollable. Russell Maroon has proven to be a model prisoner for decades and should have long ago been released into the general population and his rights restored to the extent possible under confinement. The US prison system is of the Dark Ages and is an embarrassment to the world.

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