On Friday May 31, the United States Justice Department announced that the PA Department of Corrections' use of solitary confinement of people with serious mental illness at its Cambria County facility, SCI Cresson, is in violation of both the U.S. Constitution's 8th Amendment and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The announcement came in a findings letter detailing the results of an 18-month investigation of SCI Cresson by attorneys with the Justice Department's Special Litigations Section of the Civil Rights Division, working in partnership with the U.S. Attorney's Office. The letter also notified PA governor Corbett that both agencies are expanding their investigation to include all 28 prisons under the control of the PA Department of Corrections. ..read more
by A Concerned Prisoner
The long awaited Trillion dollar "answer" to the question of the "effectiveness" of the Pennsylvania Department of Correction ADM 804 Grievance Policy and Procedures that has been looming for years in the minds of so many Federal and State Judicial Agencies, State Senators and Representatives, Prisoner Advocacy Rights Organizations, Inmate Family Members and Inmtates of "Why??" the internal grievance system inside the Pa. Dept. of Corrections Routinely rejects- on one ground or another- more than 98% of all Inmate complaints (responses are always "No Merit", "Frivolous", "Upheld", and "Denied") has finally been answered!
Pa. DOC has a manual entitled Helpful Hints for Pa. DOC Inmate Grievance Personnel that is issued to Correctional Staff who handle grievances from the Secretary's Office of Inmate Grievances & Appeals, instructing personnel how to counteract inmate grievances with scripted responses of what to say (or not to say); how to twist & avoid answering the matter(s) or accepting liability (e.g. "Don't write comments that you wouldn't want upper management or a jury to read..") and goes on to explain the DOC's intent. This edict may explain the next-to-zero success rate of inmate grievances- but I shall leave that conclusion to your judgement. ..read more
On May 25 to June 3, Decarcerate PA, Reconstruction, Inc and other allies will be marching from Philadelphia to Harrisburg to demand that 2013 be the year of a People's Budget, Not a Prison Budget.
Today members of the PA Senate will hear testimony on SB444, a deplorable bill sponsored by Senator Dominic Pileggi that would, among other things, strip prisoners of their access to nearly every provision of PA's Right to Know Law (also known as the Sunshine Law, giving everyday citizens the right to review most government records) and which would further cement prisoners' status as modern-day slaves with no true legal standing and even less practical ability to utilize the tools of democracy.
The Human Rights Coalition condemns this transparent and cynical attack on our Constitutional freedoms! Please take this moment to educate yourself on the issue (read HRC's testimony submitted at today's hearing here), call Senator Pileggi and give him and his staff total hell for sponsoring the bill, and then call your own state senators and let them know in no uncertain terms that it is their solemn duty to oppose this bill with all their hearts and souls and votes, and that you will not rest until they’ve torn it to shreds! ..talking points and contact info
With one week to go of the 30-Day campaign to get former Black Panther political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz out of solitary confinement, we have heard a lot of talk about Maroon's planned release into general population. With no time frame given, no clear process set forth, and no rationale as to why the 22-year torture of this community leader who is about to turn 70 years old should continue even one more day, Maroon's supporters must make this last week count! We can do that by making the "count" of all the letters, faxes, and phone calls go up every single day till May 8, 2013. On that morning, if Maroon is not in general population his legal team will file litigation on his behalf in federal court. While we are optimistic about the strengths of his legal case, we are well aware that justice in the courts is a political act - so today's calls make the chances of successful litigation tomorrow even greater. ..act now
In this edition: Campaign to Free Maroon from solitary Now!, PA DOC guard Nicoletti sentenced for prisoner abuse, Lynn Stewart seeks compassionate release, and more…
In this issue: Uncovering the U.S. government's mass incarceration of immigrants, the ongoing story of a Muslim family targeted as "terrorists", Parole for PA Lifers petition, and more! download pdf
Russell Maroon Shoatz STILL IN SOLITARY confinement as Campaign grows; PA DOC Secretary Wetzel must be flooded with DEMANDS for his immediate release to general population!
Twenty-two consecutive years in solitary is more than long enough!
DEMAND that Maroon be placed in general population IMMEDIATELY!
Call PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel: 717-728-4109 (Fax: 717-728-4178)
or write him at:
1920 Technology Parkway, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050