Join the Emergency 30-Day Campaign: Release Russell Maroon Shoatz from Solitary Confinement!
- Join the Emergency 30-Day Campaign: Release Russell Maroon Shoatz from Solitary Confinement!
by Steve Bloom
April 10, 2013
Russell Maroon Shoatz is a former Black Panther from Philadelphia who
has been in prison for most of his life, and in solitary confinement for most of his time in prison. According to hip hop artist Chuck D. (who
has written a forward to the just-published volume of essays by Shoatz
titled "Maroon the Implacable") he is "one of the most brilliant thinkers on the subject of Black
liberation, as well as freedom, justice, and social transformation for
all who want a planet free of abuse, oppression, and exploitation toward humans and Earth itself."
The subject matter of Maroon's book ranges from the fraud of the US
prison system to the lessons we can learn from the Black liberation
struggle of the 1960s and '70s to questions of revolutionary theory and
organization--including a deep concern about the need to combat
patriarchy and establish an ecologically sustainable socialism. You can
order it for $20 from PM Press by visiting their online store here.
Everyone who reads this volume will come to know a man who has managed
to remain in touch with the world and with contemporary culture despite
being in solitary confinement for so many years, an achievement that
alone would be remarkable enough. Still more remarkable is that Shoatz
refuses, as he composes these essays, to be satisfied with easy or
superficial analyses. His thinking is deep and complex, challenging his
readers in creative and intelligent ways.
On April 8, 2013, Maroon's attorneys sent a "Demand Letter" to the
authorities at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections calling for
his release from solitary confinement. The Campaign to Free Russell
Maroon Shoatz is organizing an emergency 30-day campaign (April 8 to May 10) of calls, letters, and faxes to DOC Secretary John Wetzel, as well as
to the superintendent of the prison where Maroon is presently
incarcerated. Please join the campaign. See the "Action Alert" below for more information.
Action Alert : Call now to demand the IMMEDIATE release of Russell Maroon Shoatz from solitary confinement!
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, 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.
Maroon needs your help! Here's how:
April 8: Begin flooding the office of PA Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel with phone calls, letters, and faxes. Send a copy of that letter, or address a similar letter, to the office of SCI
Mahanoy Superintendent John Kerestes. PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel
1920 Technology Parkway
Mechanicsburg, PA, 17050
Phone number: 717-728-4109
Fax number: 717-728-4178
Download sample letter
SCI Mahanoy Supt. John Kerestes
301 Morea Road
Mahanoy, PA, 17932
Phone number: 570-773-2158
Fax number: 570-783-2008
Download sample letter
If you have contact with media in your area, consider suggesting that
they cover this story, including the April 8 - May 10 pressure campaign.
Help publicize the campaign in schools, workplaces, churches, and communities nationwide. (Download press release)
Russell Maroon Shoatz (if writing DOC, always put his prison number,
AF-3855) has been in solitary confinement for almost 30 years despite
the fact that his disciplinary record has been impeccable-without
incident for the past 20 of those years.
Such "prolonged" solitary confinement is a violation of the United
Nations Convention Against Torture, according to UN Special Rapporteur
Juan Mendez. It starves the mind of basic social interaction, human
contact, and intellectual stimulation needed for proper brain
Other Pennsylvania prisoners with more extensive violent histories and
more recent disciplinary infractions have nevertheless been released
from solitary and are now held in general population.
Maroon is being targeted because of his work as an educator and because
of his political ideas; his time in solitary began just after he was
elected president of an officially-sanctioned prison-based support
group. This targeting is in violation of his basic human and
At age 69, Maroon poses no threat to the physical well-being or running
of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. His 23-hour-a-day
physical isolation in solitary is unnecessary and costly.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Physicians for Human Rights, and a
growing number of prominent world leaders are calling for an end to
prolonged solitary confinement. Maroon's case is one of the most
egregious, politically motivated, and long-standing of the nation's
Maroon has deep roots in Pennsylvania's Black community, many friends in peace, justice, and human rights organizations, and family members and
supporters throughout the State, the USA, and the world. We understand
the PA DOC Secretary's Office and the Warden of SCI Greene to be
particularly and personally responsible for the torturous and lethal
conditions of solitary under which Maroon is still kept.
Maroon must be released from solitary confinement IMMEDIATELY!!!
Who is Russell Maroon Shoatz?
Russell Maroon Shoatz is a former leader of the Black Panthers and the
Black freedom movement, born in Philadelphia in 1943 and originally
imprisoned in January 1972 for actions relating to his political
involvement. With an extraordinary thirty-plus years spent in solitary
confinement-including the past twenty-three years continuously-Maroon's
case is one of the most shocking examples of U.S. torture of political
prisoners, and one of the most egregious examples of human rights
violations regarding prison conditions anywhere in the world.
His "Maroon" nickname is, in part, due to his continued resistance-which twice led him to escape confinement; it is also based on his continued
clear analysis, including recent writings on ecology and matriarchy.
THOUGH MAROON WAS RECENTLY TRANSFERRED to a lower-security correctional
facility in Central Pennsylvania, he IS STILL HELD in a SOLITARY
CONFINEMENT UNIT. It will take a mass, grassroots movement to free this
inspiring community activist.
Part of the momentum for the campaign will come from a book tour taking
place during this period, promoting the newly-published "Maroon the
Implacable: The collected writings of Russell Maroon Shoatz." But it is
up to everyone concerned with human rights anywhere and everywhere to
spread the word far and wide, to make these 30 days count--for an end to solitary confinement and an end to the torture of Russell Maroon
Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz
C/O WRL/Matt Meyer, 339 Lafayette Street, New York NY 10012
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