Tag Archive: Russell Maroon Shoatz

Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For August 2016 Is Now Available

***UPDATE: ERIC KING’S ADDRESS HAS CHANGED***
Here is a temporary address at which you can reach him:
Eric King #114522306
Grady County Jail
215 N. 3rd St.
Chickasha, OK 73018

August Political Prisoner Birthday Cake

Hello Friends and Comrades,

  1. Here is the political prisoner birthday poster for August.(11″x17″ PDF, 2MB) Print it out and plaster your community, both in commemoration of these freedom fighters and to advertise locally for a political prisoner letter writing night. Get together with some friends in your town to send birthday cards to these fighters in our struggle. It’s an easy way to help remind them that they aren’t forgotten. If you make one, remember—don’t use anything like white-out, stickers, tape or glitter on it. We also recommend that you put a return name and address and their name and prisoner number on the card, lest the authorities “lose” the envelope and forget where it is going. If you would like to add a birthday or sign up for our poster mailing list (not a listserv, one email per month), or if you would like to contribute in another way to increasing the profile of US political prisoners, email us at ppbirthday@riseup.net.
  2. A special thank you to the designers of this month’s poster. Designers are constantly bombarded with requests to work their trade for free, for publicity, or for a cause, and every month the PPBD Posters project relies on their generosity of time, skill and devotion to the cause of prison abolition. Cheers to Dylan for putting this month’s rad poster together.
  3. Do you need help advertising for your local Political Prisoner Letter Writing Night? Are you interested in distributing physical copies of the poster? Write to us and let’s find a way to get physical copies of our poster to you: ppbirthday@riseup.net
  4. Political Prisoner Chelsea Manning is having a hard month. Please take some time out of your day to do something nice for her. Talk about her case with someone who has never heard of her before, learn more about her case, and if you have the time to write her a letter or a little extra to spend, please consider sending it her way.

    After years of inhumane treatment, and having been held in conditions that the UN considers to be torture, Chelsea Manning, the Guardian columnist and whistleblower who has been in prison for years serving a 35 year sentence for exposing some of the U.S. government’s worst abuses, attempted to take her own life July 5th, 2016. Now, Army officials have informed her that she is facing serious new charges directly related to her suicide attempt.

  5. Luke O’Donovan has been released! See his support website to help him with what he needs now that he is free.
  6. September 9th is right around the corner, but there’s still time to get organized in your community to prepare for prison strike and rowdy solidarity demonstrations.

    Prisoners across the US have called for a nationally coordinated work stoppage and protest starting on Sept 9th, the 45th anniversary of Attica. The safety of these prisoners and the effectiveness of the protest depend greatly on outside support. There is a robust and expanding outside support network that you or your organization could join to participate in this, the first prisoner protest of its kind. We’re hoping Sept 9th will fundamentally change not only the dialog, but the landscape of prison in America.

  7. Be sure to check out the latest Political Prisoner/Prisoner Of War every-other week update (PDF, 347KB) by the NYC-Anarchist Black Cross. There are lots of important updates on many political prisoners. This one includes updates on the Virgin Island 3, Leonard Peltier, Chelsea Manning, and more.

Remember: They are in there for us, we are out here for them!

Fellow Workers: Remember! We are in here for you, you are out there for us!

Until Every Cage Is Empty,

The Prison Books Collective

Settlement Reached in Shoatz vs. Wetzel

http://www.russellmaroonshoatz.com/

July 11, 2016: Pittsburgh PA —A settlement has been reached in the case of Shoatz v. Wetzel, which challenged the 22-year solitary confinement of Abolitionist Law Center client and political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz. This brings an end to litigation begun in 2013. In February 2014, following an international campaign on behalf of Shoatz, he was released from solitary confinement.

In exchange for Shoatz ending the lawsuit the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) has agreed that it will not place Shoatz back in solitary confinement based on his prior disciplinary record or activities; Shoatz will have a single-cell status for life, meaning he will not have to experience the extreme hardship of being forced to share a cell following decades of enforced isolation; a full mental health evaluation will be provided; and the DOC has paid a monetary settlement.

Russell Maroon Shoatz had the following to say about the settlement: “I have nothing but praise for all of those who supported me and my family for all of the years I was in Solitary Confinement, as well as helped to effect my release. Since joining the struggle for Human Rights in the mid 1960s, I have always chosen to fight! Frederick Douglass was right when he said ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’ So have no doubt that I see this Settlement as anything but the latest blow struck, and you rest assured that I will continue in the struggle for Human Rights. Straight Ahead!”

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Mendez, said: “This settlement is a major contribution to the quest to outlaw prolonged solitary confinement in the US and around the world. I congratulate Mr. Shoatz and his family for not giving up and his team of lawyers for a committed and highly professional approach to justice.”
Shoatz had been held in solitary confinement in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) since 1983. For 19 months between 1989 and 1991 he was held in the general population of the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth. Upon return to the PADOC in 1991 he was immediately placed back in solitary confinement and held there until February 20, 2014, when he was released to the general population at State Correctional Institution Graterford, 10 months after he filed suit in Shoatz v. Wetzel.

The case challenged the more than 22 consecutive years that Shoatz spent in conditions of solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment due to the severe deprivations of basic human needs imposed on Shoatz, including mental health, environmental stimulation, social interaction, sleep, physical health, and exercise. Shoatz also challenged violations of his procedural and substantive due process rights.

As noted by Judge Eddy in her February 2016 decision ordering a trial in the case, plaintiff’s expert, psychiatrist Dr. James Gilligan, stated in his report in the case that Shoatz has spent “virtually his entire adult life in complete and coerced social isolation (and sensory deprivation) – which is among the most abnormal and pathogenic environments in which it is possible to place a human being.”

The decision also quoted United Nations Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez, who was another expert for the plaintiff:
“The conditions of detention of Mr. Russell Shoatz, in particular his indefinite solitary confinement eventually lasting 29 years, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment under customary international law standards. . . . [E]ven if isolation of inmates is not per se contrary to those practices, indefinite or excessively prolonged regimes of solitary confinement like the one suffered by Mr. Shoatz certainly do. In addition to the excessive duration and indefinite nature, his isolation contradicts the trend of all civilized Nations in that it was imposed on the basis of status determinations unrelated to any conduct in his part, and through a meaningless procedure that did not afford him a serious chance to challenge the outcome.”

Shoatz was released from solitary confinement after an international campaign led by his family and supporters. The campaign to release Shoatz included the support of five Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor, Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Jody Williams from the United States, and Adolfo Perez Esquivel of Argentina. Several U.S. civil and human rights organizations also endorsed his release from isolation.

In March 2013, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Juan Mendez, called on the government “to cease the prolonged isolation of Mr. Shoat[z].” (see Democracy Now! interview with Juan Mendez and Matt Meyer discussing Maroon at this link).
Shoatz was represented in this case by Bret Grote and Dustin McDaniel of the Abolitionist Law Center; Harold J. Engel; and Reed Smith attorneys Rick Etter and Stefanie L. Burt.

Contact:
Russell Shoatz III rshoatz@gmail.com 347-697-5390
Theresa Shoatz tiye1120@gmail.com 267-456-7882
Bret Grote bretgrote@abolitionistlawcenter.org 412-654-9070

Action Alert –Prison Officials Denying Russell Maroon Shoatz Treatment for Prostate Cancer

maroonFrom Free Russell Maroon Shoats

Action Alert –Prison Officials Denying Russell Maroon Shoatz Treatment for Prostate Cancer – Call Prison Today

Political prisoner and former Black Panther Russell Maroon Shoatz #AF3855 was informed that he had prostate cancer on December 9, 2014. Prison medical staff has not provided any treatment to date. Cancer does not wait for the prison bureaucracy. Maroon’s health, his life, and his rights are being violated every moment he is denied necessary cancer treatment.

Call SCI Graterford and PADOC Secretary Wetzel today and demand that Maroon be provided immediate, necessary medical care for his prostate cancer.

Call:

SCI Graterford Superintendent Michael Wenerowicz: 610-489-4151

SCI Graterford Chief Health Care Administrator Joseph Korszniak: 610-489-4151

PADOC Secretary John Wetzel: 717-728-4109

Please be firm and respectful when talking to prison staff.

Talking Points: (more…)

Russell Maroon Shoatz released from solitary confinement – first time in general population in more than 22 years

maroonFrom Abolitionist Law Center

February 20, 2014: Pittsburgh PA —  Russell Maroon Shoatz was released from solitary confinement into the general prison population at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Graterford this morning, ending more than 22 consecutive years in solitary confinement. The news was confirmed by Maroon during a legal call with an attorney from the Abolitionist Law Center.

Maroon’s son, Russell Shoatz III, said, “We are very excited that this day has finally come. My father being released from solitary confinement is proof of the power of people organizing against injustice, and the importance of building strong coalitions. I especially want to thank all of those who have supported the collective struggle to end my father’s solitary confinement, including my siblings and members of the Shoatz family, the Human Rights Coalition, Abolitionist Law Center, Scientific Soul Sessions, the entire legal team, UN Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez, the 5 Nobel Peace Laureates, the National Lawyers Guild, Center for Constitutional Rights, along with the dozens of other organizations and thousands of individuals who have participated in this effort.”

The move comes after Maroon, who turned 70-years-old in August 2013, was transferred to three different Pennsylvania prisons in the past nine months. It marks the first time that Shoatz has been in the general prison population in the state of Pennsylvania since 1983, when he was placed in solitary confinement due to his work with the Pennsylvania Association of Lifers to abolish life-without-parole sentences. For a 17-month period between 1989-1991, Maroon was held in the general prison population at the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. (more…)

Lawyers for Russell Maroon Shoatz submit request to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

maroonFrom Free Russell Maroon Shoatz

October 17, 2013: Pittsburgh PA —  Lawyers for Russell Maroon Shoatz submitted a communication to the United Nations Special Rapportuer on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Juan Mendez, requesting that he inquire into Shoatz’s nearly 30 years of solitary confinement within the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC). Shoatz is a 70-year-old, former Black Panther Party member who has been locked in solitary confinement at various state prisons for the past 22 consecutive years, and 28 of the past 30 years.

The request comes at a time when the campaign to release Shoatz from solitary confinement has been gathering increasing international attention. In August, Nobel Peace Prize laureates Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor, Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa marked the occasion of Maroon’s 70th birthday by sending a letter to PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel that read: “We also affirm, in the strongest possible humanitarian terms, that now is the time for the immediate and unconditional release from solitary confinement and restricted housing of Russell Maroon Shoatz. After decades of solitary confinement – including the past 22 consecutive years – there is no reason for further delay. Continued confinement in 23-hour-a-day isolation is nothing short of torture.”

For the last 23 years, Shoatz has had an impeccable disciplinary record, and has not received on serious rule violation during this time. Despite his model behavior, advancing years, and health problems, the PA DOC has refused to release this father, grandfather, great-grandfather, human rights advocate, and published author into the general prison population. (more…)

September 4, 2013 Campaign Update – Action Alert

SAMSUNGFrom Free Russell Maroon Shoatz!

Maroon Transferred to SCI-Frackville

Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz
September 4, 2013 Update/Action Alert

Download This Action Alert

Just 5 days after observing his 70th birthday, on August 28, 2013, former Black Panther and political prisoner Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz was transferred to the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Frackville, a maximum security institution. He has once again been immediately placed in a restricted housing unit (RHU): solitary confinement of twenty-three-hour-a-day lock down. Shoatz was not given a reason for the transfer.

The transfer came one week before Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ (PA DOC) officials, including Secretary John Wetzel, must report to a federal judge on the progress of Shoatz’s release into the general population. DOC defendants in the case Shoatz v. Wetzel have represented to the court on multiple occasions that they intend to release Shoatz into the general population, but have so far failed to do so. (more…)

The Ex-Worker #8: Prison Abolition

ep8-250From Crimethinc.

Though a week late (sorry!), the eighth episode of the Ex-Worker is our longest yet, and wraps up our series on prisons and police, as we look at ways to dismantle the prison industrial complex and to address harm directly without the state. We interview members of Critical Resistance and Support New York to learn about how prison abolition and community accountability processes play out in practice. You’ll also hear also a review of a new collection of writings from political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoats, responses to listener feedback and anarchist perspectives on gun control, plus a letter from revolutionary Tom Manning about his transfer from solitary confinement. And of course we’ve got news from struggles worldwide, event announcements, Contradictionary entries, and plenty more.

You can download this and all of our previous episodes on our podcast page. You can also subscribe in iTunes here or just add the feed URL to your podcast player of choice. Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to podcast@crimethinc.com. A new episode is supposed to be released on the first and third Sunday of every month.

Action Alert – Russell Maroon Shoatz: Call to demand his IMMEDIATE release from solitary confinement!

maroonbannerFrom Free Russell Maroon Shoatz!

Former Black Panther Russell Maroon Shoatz has been held in torturous conditions of solitary confinement in Pennsylvania prisons for the past thirty years. He has not had a serious rule violation for more than two decades. Maroon’s role as an educator, human rights defender, writer, and critical intellectual of liberation movements is widely renowned.

From April 8 to May 10, 2013, the Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz is calling for an intense call-in and write-in campaign to bring pressure on the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC), to release Maroon from solitary confinement and into the general prison population. This is the first major phase of a coordinated political-legal campaign, beginning with Maroon’s attorneys sending a “Demand Letter” to the PA DOC on the morning of April 8, 2013. The letter, outlining the legal and humanitarian reasons why an immediate release from solitary is needed, gives the PA DOC an opportunity to correct the grave injustices being carried out on a daily basis before litigation begins. (more…)

Solitary confinement: Torture chambers for black revolutionaries

From Aljazeera:

“The torture technicians who developed the paradigm used in (prisons’) ‘control units’ realised that they not only had to separate those with leadership qualities, but also break those individuals’ minds and bodies and keep them separated until they are dead.”– Russell “Maroon” Shoats

Russell “Maroon” Shoats has been kept in solitary confinement in the state of Pennsylvania for 30 years after being elected president of the prison-approved Lifers’ Association. He was initially convicted for his alleged role in an attack authorities claim was carried out by militant black activists on the Fairmont Park Police Station in Philadelphia that left a park sergeant dead.

Despite not having violated prison rules in more than two decades, state prison officials refuse to release him into the general prison population.

Russell’s family and supporters claim that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) has unlawfully altered the consequences of his criminal conviction, sentencing him to die in solitary confinement – a death imposed by decades of no-touch torture.

The severity of the conditions he is subjected to and the extraordinary length of time they have been imposed for has sparked an international campaign to release him from solitary confinement – a campaign that has quickly attracted the support of leading human rights legal organisations, such as the Centre for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild.

Less than two months after the campaign was formally launched with events in New York City and London, Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, agreed to make an official inquiry into Shoats’ 21 years of solitary confinement, sending a communication to the US State Department representative in Geneva, Switzerland.

Full story at Aljazeera

Sign the Online Petition to Demand Medical Care for Russell Maroon Shoats

Russell Maroon Shoats is a dedicated community activist, founding member of the Black Unity Council, former member of the Black Panther Party and soldier in the Black Liberation Army. He is serving multiple life sentences for an attack on a police station which resulted in an officer being killed. Russell has been in long term solitary confinement since 1991 at SCI Greene in Waynesburg, PA.  Despite still being held in 23 hour a day lockdown, Russell remains a committed New Afrikan freedom fighter.

Sign and forward this petition to get him out of solitary confinement and receive needed medical care.