Report finds disturbing pattern of illnesses at Southwestern PA prison surrounded by coal ash dump

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. Continue reading Report finds disturbing pattern of illnesses at Southwestern PA prison surrounded by coal ash dump

Family filing suit over son’s suicide while isolated in SCI Cresson

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.” Continue reading Family filing suit over son’s suicide while isolated in SCI Cresson

Parents of Brandon Palakovic sue prison officials for death of their son in solitary confinement

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.” Continue reading Parents of Brandon Palakovic sue prison officials for death of their son in solitary confinement

Statement from the Palakovic Family

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. Continue reading Statement from the Palakovic Family

The Department of Corrections is Waging a War on Learning

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. Continue reading The Department of Corrections is Waging a War on Learning

Court Rules Human Rights Coalition’s Censorship Suit Can Go Forward

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 Continue reading Court Rules Human Rights Coalition’s Censorship Suit Can Go Forward

Institutionalized Cruelty: The Use of Solitary Confinement in Pennsylvania Prisons (Video)

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 Continue reading Institutionalized Cruelty: The Use of Solitary Confinement in Pennsylvania Prisons (Video)

Law and Disorder Radio Program on Release of Russell Maroon Shoatz from Solitary Confinement

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 Continue reading Law and Disorder Radio Program on Release of Russell Maroon Shoatz from Solitary Confinement