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.
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…
MEDIA RELEASE: Federal court rules litigation can proceed in Shoatz v. Wetzel Defendants’ motion to dismiss denied on all counts January 27, 2014: Pittsburgh PA — On Monday, January 27, United States District Magistrate for the Western District of Pennsylvania,…
Arthur “Cetewayo” Johnson is a politicized prisoner who has been held in solitary confinement by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) since 1979.
Despite his exemplary disciplinary record of the past 25 years, and his recently turning 61 years old, Cetewayo continues to be subjected to 23-24-hour lockdown in solitary confinement with its attendant austerity, monotony, and deprivations. He has not had human contact with anybody except prison guards in over 30 years.
By Pam Johnson
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 19 2013 (IPS) – He has not had human contact or a good night’s sleep in nearly three decades. Every single day, he wakes to the sound of metal doors clanging open and a pair of disembodied hands pushing a tray of food through a slot into his 64-square-foot cell.
For the next 23 hours, he will stare at the same four walls. If he is lucky, he’ll be escorted, shackled at his ankles and wrists, into a “yard” – an enclosure only slightly larger than his cell – for an hour of solitary exercise.
This is how Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, a prisoner in the restricted housing unit at the State Correctional Institute (SCI) Frackville in northern Pennsylvania, has spent the past 22 consecutive years.
October 17, 2013: Pittsburgh PA — Lawyers for Russell Maroon Shoatz submitted a Communication to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture – Fall 2013, Juan Mendez, requesting that he inquire into Shoatz’s nearly 30 years of solitary confinement within the…