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.
DEMAND that Maroon (Inmate number for Russell Shoatz – AF3855) be placed in general population IMMEDIATELY!
Call/Write to: PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel, 1920 Technology Parkway, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050; Phone number: 717-728-4109; Fax: 717-728-4178
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.
Coming on the heels of a weekend of events held around the country in honor
of Shoatz’s birthday, the transfer highlights the refusal of the PA DOC to
respond to a major international campaign, launched in May 2012, to win the
release of this senior citizen into General Population. In a birthday
message sent jointly to Shoatz and PA DOC Secretary Wetzel, three Nobel
Peace Prize recipients – Archbishop Desmond Tutu of
South Africa, Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor and Mairead Corrigan Maguire
of Ireland – demanded “in the strongest possible humanitarian terms” that
“now is the time for the immediate and unconditional release” of Shoatz.
Archbishop Tutu, a founder of the Elders group which includes Nelson
Mandela and former US President Jimmy Carter, and Ramos-Horta, former
President of East Timor and a Special Representative of the United Nations,
have vowed that they will continue to monitor the situation of Shoatz until
his “unfair and unjust treatment” is alleviated. A report of Shoatz’s case
has been formally filed with the office of the UN Special
Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Mendez.
Recognizing that the transfer to SCI Frackville represents an arbitrary and
unjustifiable delay of his release to population, forcing Shoatz to wait
for another indeterminate processing period in this new institution, NOW IS
THE TIME TO RE-ACTIVATE THE PHONE CALLS, LETTERS AND FAXES DEMANDING
MAROON’S IMMEDIATE RELEASE!
It is important to remember that on March 28, shortly before a team of
lawyers filed a suit against the PA DOC for violating Shoatz’s
constitutional rights by holding him in an 8 by 12-foot cell for over two
decades, prison officials moved Shoatz from SCI Greene (where he had spent
a total of 18 years on lockdown) to SCI Mahanoy for the stated purpose of
ending his 22 consecutive years in solitary confinement. That transfer
coincided with the first leg of a 16-city national tour of Maroon’s
recently published book of essays, which has since been banned by the PA
Juan E. Mendez, who reports directly to the United Nations High Commission
on Human Rights, has repeatedly likened conditions in restricted housing
units to torture, and called for a moratorium on isolation exceeding 15
days. Yet Maroon has endured these torturous conditions for almost half of
his life, despite the fact that he has no disciplinary problems in over 20
We must unite to demand that Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections end
their months of empty promises. It is up to us – conscientious members of
the public – to force the system to respect basic human rights standards
and the strict prohibition on torture.
We are now calling on YOU to help us in this Herculean endeavor to win
justice for one of Pennsylvania’s nearly 52,000 prisoners. Pick up your
pens and your phones and help us bring an old man closer to his family!
Write to Russell and let him know he has our support:
Russell Maroon Shoats #AF-3855
SCI Frackville, 1111 Altamont Boulevard, Frackville, PA 17931-2699
Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz, email@example.com,
c/o WRL/Matt Meyer, 339 Lafayette Street, New York NY 10012; 412-654-9070
http://russellmaroonshoats.wordpress.com/ • #30Days2FreeMaroon • #FreeMaroon