[col. writ. 7/15/16] ©’16 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Russell Maroon Shoatz, a Black Liberation fighter since his youth, after many years of struggle, has prevailed in his action to bar the Pa. Dept. of Corrections (DOC) from ever holding him in isolation again.
In a remarkable Settlement bringing an end to the 2-year old “Shoatz v. Wetzel, et al.” case, Maroon won on all counts–the only thing lacking is a judge’s written opinion.
Upon hearing of the Settlement, Maroon stated:
“I have nothing but praise for all of those who supported me and my family for all the years I was in Solitary Confinement, as well as helped to effect my release. Since joining the struggle for Human Rights in the mid-1960s, I have always chosen to fight! Frederick Douglass was right when he said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” So have no doubt that I see this Settlement as anything but the latest blow struck, and you rest assured that I will continue in the struggle for Human Rights. Straight Ahead!”
Under the terms of the Settlement, the DOC has agreed to not place Maroon in solitary over his prior disciplinary or other activities; he is to be single-celled for life; and he was awarded a monetary settlement.
Maroon was held in solitary confinement from 1983 to 2014; with the exception of 19 months he spent in federal custody at Leavenworth, where he lived without incident in general population. Upon his return to Pa., he was immediately thrown back into the Hole.
For 22 consecutive years–a lifetime!–Russell Maroon Shoots has been held by the State of Pennsylvania in isolation-conditions described by the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Juan Mendez, as “torture.” Méndez, who served as a court expert for Shoats, also called publicly for his release from solitary.
Russell Maroon Shoots, an acclaimed author and self-trained historian (His last book: Maroon, The Implacable), was represented in this federal civil rights action by Bret Grote and Dustin McDaniel of the Abolitionist Law Center of Pittsburgh, Pa., Harold J. Engel, Esq., and attorneys Rick Etter and Stephanie L. Burt, both of the law firm, Reed Smith.
Maroon’s latest struggle against the depredations of solitary confinement reminds us of Mao’s famous dictum: Dare to Struggle – Dare to Win!