Friday, February 24, 2012

Petition to End the Solitary Confinement Torture of Russell Maroon Shoats

Russell Maroon Shoats was a member of the Black Panther Party and a founding member of the Black Unity Council, sentenced to multiple life sentences for the 1970 murder of a Philadelphia area police officer. According to the website Free Russell Maroon Shoats, "he was on the verge of being released from solitary confinement [last year] 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."

Shoats, who remains a committed opponent of US racism and imperialism, has been held in solitary confinement all told some 30 years, including a stint at the notorious Marion Supermax prison in Illinois.

The following is a petition that has been initiated to pressure prison authorities to remove Shoats from isolation, a form of imprisonment that is an inhumane assault on the sensorium and nervous system of the prisoner that causes irreversible brain damage and psychological damage. This punishment is politically-motivated, and must be opposed by all supporters of human rights and social change.
Sign the Petition

Russell Maroon Shoats (#AF-3855), a 68-year-old prisoner held at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Greene in southwestern Pennsylvania, has been kept in solitary confinement for more than 21 years. He has been unable to hold his children or grandchildren or interact with others in a humane setting during this time, 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.

Maroon has spent nearly 40 years within the Pennsylvania prison system, 30 of those in solitary confinement. During this time he has earned a reputation amongst prison staff and prisoners as a leader because of his consistent support for human rights inside and outside the walls. Prison officials claim that Mr. Shoats is a security threat due to past escapes and attempts, though new evidence has surfaced that his continued solitary confinement is based on secret and fraudulent evidence of a non-existent plan to takeover a prison in the 1980s. Prison officials also identified Maroon’s political associations as a basis for continuing to torture him via solitary confinement.

We are distressed and outraged that an elderly man who is nearing his 70th birthday continues to be treated in such a cruel manner based on his constitutionally-protected support for human rights 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 Russell Shoats is more than ready to re-enter the general prison population.

We, the undersigned, are calling on prison officials to end the solitary confinement torture of Russell Maroon Shoats by releasing him into the general population of the prison immediately.

Sign the Petition
Listen to a podcast of Mumia Abu-Jamal discussing Shoats.

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