The International Campaign to Release Russell Maroon Shoatz, in conjunction with Resistance in Brooklyn and Scientific Soul Sessions, urge everyone who possibly can to attend this extremely important hearing on Tuesday, September 18 at 2 PM, in Philadelphia. (This is a postponed date from the original one of July 17.)
Shoatz, a 68-year-old Black political prisoner who has been held in solitary confinement in Pennsylvania for 20 consecutive years, and over thirty years total during his forty behind bars, is one critical case among many in need of broad and growing support. This hearing is a major breakthrough for penetrating the cone of silence around this torturous practice.
We will circulate information about transportation from NYC when the date gets closer.
The release below was put out by the Human Rights Coalition, a Pennsylvania group of predominately prisoners’ families, ex-prisoners and some supporters whose ultimate goal is to abolish prisons.
Correction: The Democratic Policy Committee Hearing on Solitary Confinement has been postponed. The new date and time is Tuesday, September 18th at 2:00 PM – location to be determined.
ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE
Pennsylvania Legislators to Hold Hearing on Solitary Confinement in Philadelphia July 17
Pennsylvania state representative Ron Waters has confirmed that the Democratic Party Policy Committee is holding a hearing on solitary confinement in Philadelphia on July 17 at 2pm somewhere at Drexel University (venue still to be determined). The Human Rights Coalition was just made aware of this today and will send additional details regarding the venue, speakers, and other information as it becomes available.
The announcement comes less than one month after U.S. Senator Dick Durbin held a congressional hearing on solitary confinement that drew widespread press coverage. Editorials denouncing solitary confinement appeared in press throughout the country in the aftermath of the hearing, in large part due to the gripping testimony of Anthony Graves, a former death row prisoner who was subject to the torture of solitary confinement for 18 years before being exonerated.
See the transcript and watch the testimony of the senate hearing at this link.
As stated by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette in an editorial appearing after the hearing: “It’s time to view solitary confinement as torture.” Warehousing prisoners in 23-24 hours of isolation and enforced idleness every day for months, years, and even decades on end was acknowledged by the paper to be “hardly any life, because the whole point is to separate humanity from the prisoner. It sounds like a debased practice of totalitarian regimes, but solitary confinement is also a staple of the U.S. prison system, including in Pennsylvania.”
HRC is asking all supporters, survivors of solitary, formerly incarcerated people, anti-death penalty advocates, juvenile justice supporters, family members of the incarcerated, and others concerned with human rights and social justice to join us at this hearing and lend your voices to the growing resistance to torture in U.S. prisons and the human rights crisis that is mass incarceration.
This affects us all. Come to Philadelphia on July 17, draft a statement to submit to the hearing, and be on the lookout for further announcements about a rally that will occur before the hearing. We will try to arrange for speakers who are not able to testify at the hearing to address the public.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer to help with outreach, organizing or searching for transportation, or other questions or concerns.