No Escape: Exposure to Toxic Coal Waste at State Correctional Institution Fayette

September 2, 2014: Pittsburgh, PA – Abolitionist Law Center and the Human Rights Coalition have released a report entitled, No Escape: Exposure to Toxic Coal Waste at State Correctional Institution Fayette, based on a year-long investigation into the health impacts of exposure to coal waste at the state prison in Fayette County, PA. The report reveals alarming rates of illnesses consistent with exposure to coal ash, a toxic byproduct of burning coal in power plants.

Brandon Palakovic

By Paula Reed Ward / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Link to Post-Gazette article HERE Brandon Palakovic was witty and personable. He was smart, didn’t like to complain and made people laugh. But, he also had trouble following rules — even from a young age… But, what happened to her son at State Correctional Institution Cresson — where Brandon was forced to spend weeks at a time in solitary confinement — she continued, is appalling. “He was trapped, and there was nothing he could do to get out of it,” she said from her home now in Spring Hill, Tenn. “It was horrible. I wouldn’t treat an animal like that.”

IMG_5253

July 8, 2014: Pittsburgh, PA – A lawsuit filed in federal court in the Western District of Pennsylvania today claims that Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel and other officials in charge of the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Cresson “created and sustained conditions of solitary confinement that subjected Brandon Palakovic to torture, causing him to take his own life on July 17, 2012, at the age of 23. Defendants transformed [Brandon’s] 16-48 month term of imprisonment into a death sentence.”

Nearly two years ago now, our son, Brandon Michael Palakovic, was pronounced dead in a hospital in Altoona after hanging himself with his bed sheet while in solitary confinement (RHU) at Cresson State Correctional Institution. His last moments on earth were of such torment and misery that he felt the only escape was death. As his parents, we have found it hard to conceive of death being his only way out. So we have spent the last two years trying to heal, understand his final decision and memorialize Brandon for the person that he was, not the animal that we have come to find out he was treated like.

Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed 2014-2015 budget will give the Department of Corrections a $78 million increase over current spending.

If Corbett’s budget is approved, for the first time in history, the Commonwealth will spend more than $2 billion on prisons. And yet, less than $40 million, or about 2 percent, of the agency’s budget will go to “Inmate Education and Training”.

The focus of the criminal justice system solely on retributive punishment as opposed to rehabilitation, programming, or the assessment of systemic root causes has been a sweeping failure nationwide.

saleem_2013

Federal Court Denies Motion to Dismiss and Grants Motion to Amend Complaint in Human Rights Coalition’s Censorship Lawsuit A challenge to prison censorship of political and human rights literature in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) has seen two favorable developments in the past month. On Thursday, May 15, United States Federal District court ruled […]

War Cries

The Abolitionist Law Center is throwing a fundraiser at the Bricolage Theatre in downtown Pittsburgh. Join us for a night of poetry, song, hip-hop, and prison abolition, with Joy KMT, Blak Rapp Madusa, Jacquea Mae, Russell Shoatz III and more!

Institutionalized Cruelty

Institutionalized Cruelty, a film by James Tedrow, discusses the abuse of solitary confinement in the Pennsylvania prison system, as documented by Human Rights Coalition investigations. The film includes video of the cell extraction of Carrington Keyes, a member of the Dallas 6, as well as discussing the death of John Carter during a cell extraction, […]

masthead2

ALC Attorney, Bret Grote, was recently interviewed on Law and Disorder Radio about the release of Russell Maroon Shoatz after 22 consecutive years in solitary confinement. More from the producers of Law and Disorder Radio: Here on Law and Disorder we’ve been keeping you updated on the campaign to release Russell “Maroon” Shoatz from solitary […]

Maroon Released from Solitary: What’s Next? The litigation on behalf of Russell Maroon Shoatz is still active. The Abolitionist Law Center and the rest of Maroon’s legal team will continue our work on his behalf, until we are assured that he cannot be placed back into solitary confinement at the arbitrary whim of prison officials. […]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,357 other followers