Law and Disorder Radio – Campaign to Release Russell Shoatz from Solitary Confinement – Glenn Greenwald: Challenging the Surveillance State – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

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 Campaign to Release Russell Shoatz from Solitary Confinement Into General Population

Last year, the National Lawyers Guild called on Superintendent Louis Folino to support the Program Review Board’s recommendation to release Russell Maroon Shoatz into the general prison population at SCI Greene in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. As many listeners may know, Russell Maroon Shoatz has been held as a political prisoner under intense lockdown, spending no more than one hour a day outside of his cell for the past 21 years. He was locked up in 1972 for his activity as a member of the Black Liberation Army. We follow up on the international campaign to release Shoatz. The effort was launched in New York City and London and sponsored by Scientific Soul Sessions.



Theresa Shoatz:

  • He goes before the Program Review Board every 90 days, its about 68 visits since he’s been in solitary confinement. He hasn’t had any infractions in 30 years.
  • If you look at that, they don’t intend to release him into general population.
  • It’s a check-off, how has your response been around the guards? What’s your response when you’re taken to the shower?
  • Russell had become disappointed with the Program Review Committee and said “I’m not going anymore.”
  • I called the Program Review Committee at SCI Greene, and said we’re getting tired of this lack of movement forward.
  • They said they look down on that as not cooperating with the prison. We look at as they’re not cooperating with all the rules they set forth. There is a step-down program; they don’t use it as much as they should.
  • When you talk about holding one person in solitary confinement, he has to be transferred, whatever his movement, to the shower, to the one hour cage, it takes two guards.
  • SCI Greene released at least 20 prisoners from solitary confinement who they had no intention of releasing but because the state budget is in jeopardy now.
  • They left Daddy back there. Daddy’s approaching 70 years of age, he hasn’t had an infraction in 30 years, you would’ve thought he’d be the perfect person for this step-down program, and we questioned that.
  • When I talk to the staff in solitary confinement, they all say he needs to be general population.
  • Superintendent Folino retires in 2 years and I think he may want to slide out without releasing him into population.
  • Russell escaped in 1977; in the ’80s, he was in general population at SCI Pittsburgh.
  • He had been voted the first black president of the Lifers Association.
  • Folino states that he is a leader and he is to remain in solitary. The director of the Program Review Committee actually stated that he is a leader. Obviously, Theresa, you don’t know he’s a leader?
  • Outside of him being a leader, he’s been able to withstand this 23 hour a day lockdown.
  • I do see there are some changes with Russell, I’m talking emotionally. He’s very distraught now.
  • I’m shocked that he hasn’t totally broken down.
  • He gets a lot of mail. He’s busy with letter writing.
  • I found there have been a lot of suicides in SCI Greene’s solitary confinement unit. Boys in their twenties hanging themselves. You don’t hear about it.
  • This is torture. In 2005, there were 80,000 people in solitary confinement.
  • Juan Mendez’s report on Russell Maroon Shoatz
  • My focus is on getting him into general population. I’m concerned with stopping the expansion of prisons being built. It costs millions of dollars to build new prisons, instead of using that for education for prisoners being released.
  • Put that money back into public schools instead of building new prisons.
  • We’re being assaulted by this present-day prison system and neither our government nor our state seems to mind locking up folks or taking away money from our public school education and putting it into prisons.
  • Congressional Hearing on Solitary Confinement
  • / Russell Maroon Shoatz

Guest – Theresa Shoatz, a Philadelphia-based prison justice activist and the daughter of Russell Shoatz.

Glenn Greenwald: Challenging the Surveillance State

Glenn Greenwald is an author and contributor to During his book tour for the paperback release of With Liberty and Justice for Some, he gave a impactful speech in Chicago titled “Challenging the Surveillance State.”