Family filing suit over son’s suicide while isolated in SCI Cresson ‘His life shouldn’t have ended this way’ July 12, 2014 11:55 PM Brandon Palakovic and his mother in a family portrait. By Paula Reed Ward / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Link to Post-Gazette article HERE Brandon Palakovic was witty and personable. He was smart, didn’t […]

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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.

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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, […]

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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. […]

Maroon after his release from solitary confinement

February 20, 2014: Pittsburgh PA —  Russell Maroon Shoatz was released from solitary confinement into the general prison population at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Graterford this morning, ending more than 22 consecutive years in solitary confinement. The news was confirmed by Maroon during a legal call with an attorney from the Abolitionist Law Center. Maroon’s […]

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