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A generous donor has offered a matching pledge in response to the report the Abolitionist Law Center (ALC) recently released with the Human Rights Coalition (HRC), which uncovered a hidden health crisis at a Pennsylvania prison built in the midst of a toxic coal waste dump. If you give today your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $1,000.

Nicholas Morrissey and his daughter before his illness

Nick has been locked up at SCI Fayette since 2008. Last year, he began to experience a number of debilitating health problems. He writes, “One day I woke up and it was difficult for me to walk and see… I started getting dizzy and I couldn’t keep my balance and I started getting a numbing feeling in the left side of my body.” He quickly developed more symptoms: tingling sensations and muscle spasm, loss of mechanical function in his arms and legs, memory loss, hair falling out, and extreme weight loss.

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.”


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.


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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