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Former Black Panther Russell Maroon Shoatz (AF-3855) has been held in torturous conditions of solitary confinement in Pennsylvania prisons for the past thirty years. He has not had a serious rule violation for more than two decades. Maroon’s role as an educator, human rights defender, writer, and critical intellectual of liberation movements is widely renowned.
April 8—May 9: Flood the office of PA Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel with phone calls, letters, and faxes.
PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel 1920 Technology Parkway Mechanicsburg, PA, 17050
Phone number: 717-728-4109 Fax number: 717-728-4109
For more information visit:
My letter to Wetzel:
1920 Technology Parkway
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Dear Mr. Wetzel:
I am writing out of concern for Mr. Russell Shoatz, inmate #AF-3855 recently transferred to SCI Mahanoy. I’ve been reading about the controversial nature of solitary confinement in the news and it came to my attention that this older man has been in solitary confinement here in the United States for thirty years!
My reaction is that surely this is a violation of Mr. Shoatz’ human rights that must be remedied immediately. I would certainly hope that this has not persisted because of his political affiliations, as that would make this even worse. I do understand that he has an escape in his past— but surely that can’t justify sensory deprivation into his old age.
I will be hoping every day for news that Russell Shoatz has been transferred into general population. Thank you for the action you will take. Please be in touch as time permits.
UPDATE: RELEASED BACK TO HALFWAY HOUSE– SEE UPDATE TO NYC ABC LINK BELOW.
Daniel McGowan used to be a political prisoner who did most of his bid in communications management units because of his political speech. He was in halfway house, halfway in prison, halfway in outside life and putting his halfway outside life together and enjoying halfway freedom. Just after publishing an article on Huffington Post (Court Documents Prove I Was Sent to Communications Management Units (CMU) for my Political Speech), when we thought we were almost done with this ordeal, Daniel was yanked back into federal prison today, April 4, 2013— which only proves his fucking point.
Under the united states, whether you are all the way in prison, halfway in prison, supervised by prisoncrats, or even like me and privileged enough to be in minimum custody out here in the world, you are under a system that warehouses people for social control and for political repression and it seeks to maintain its power. Until this system is overturned, it will always devise special units and inane rules to fuck with the lives of those who dare to speak out. Do not let them struggle alone.
Write Daniel. Support political prisoners.
“It’s hard enough to transition from life in prison to a “normal” life back home in New York. It’s especially traumatic to then be ripped from that, and put back behind bars. Please consider writing him a letter:” (Will Potter)
Meant to post this earlier but an Oso Blanco supporter actually received a letter back from the Pardon Attorney, who’s apparently named Ronald L Rodgers:
We have received your letter of [date] regarding the petition for commutation (reduction) of sentence of Mr. Byron Shane Chubbuck. We have made it part of his clemency file.
We have received Mr. Chubbuck’s petition and his application is under consideration. While we cannot predict when a decision will be reached, he will be notified promptly once final action has been taken on his application.
Ronald L. Rodgers
So this is very good. We are on the right track. Keep those letters coming and you are encouraged to send copies to Through the Walls.
I’ll go back and edit previous posts with the new information.
While asking for things from Obama and the state is not at the heart of the strategies I believe in, when a captive freedom fighter chooses to pursue liberation through this avenue and asks for help from supporters, I believe it’s appropriate to follow through.
Below is an open letter. Use it as a reference in writing your own letter and/or learn more about Oso Blanco at osoblanco.org . . .
*NOTE: Address letters to Barack
But send them to Through the Walls so they can be sent together in connection with the petition:
Through the Walls
PO Box 132
Brooklyn, NY 11218
President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing on behalf of Mr. Byron Shane Chubbuck, Federal Bureau of Prisons #07909-051, who is petitioning you for Executive Clemency. I am aware that Mr. Chubbuck pled guilty to multiple counts of bank robbery, assault, and other charges. Through research and correspondence with Mr. Chubbuck, I am also aware that, strange as it may sound, even then, Chubbuck was motivated by a desire to financially aid hungry children.
Today, Chubbuck’s need to help others manifests itself closer to home and within the law. He very much, and very truly, wants to be a father to his son and to help his sister and his mother who struggle with health issues. For a person driven by humanitarianism, the Federal Bureau of Prisons can only provide so much corrective and rehabilitative influence. After nearly thirteen years, it is time for his rehabilitation to continue to the next chapter—a return to his family and community so that he can begin to contribute to their and his health and well-being.
I am aware that granting a pardon to Chubbuck would involve risk to your own reputation and political career. However that is often the case in a matter of doing the right thing and I believe that you will make every effort to be just in your decision. Thank you for the action you will take.
Statement to All who wrote the court:
Thank you very much all of you wonderful people. It is sad and heart breaking, I have not seen my 13 year old son since 2001. And in a prison visit at USP FLorence Colorado. Not at home like normal life. I ask how much longer can we as humanity “allow” the system to destroy family, lives and children?
The court Oct 24, gave visiting privileges to my mother. Nothing for my self because I am in prison.
Love + Power
Spirit and Fire
You saw it, you liked it, you shared it, you tweeted it, you reblogged it,
But have you actually written and sent off your character reference letter for political prisoner Oso Blanco yet???
It’s time. I just wrote mine.
Families staying together through political imprisonment is no joke.
Let’s do this.
Yes, I should have blogged this on Monday but I didn’t.
The day has passed but the relevance of the message has not . . .
“Greetings my relatives and friends, supporters!
I know I say this same line all the time but in reality you all are my relatives and I appreciate you. I cannot say that enough. Some of our people, as well as ourselves have decided to call today Indigenous Day instead of Columbus Day and it makes me really think about how many People who still celebrate Columbus, a cruel, mass murderer who on his last trip to the Americas, as I have read, was arrested by his own people for being too cruel. When you consider those kinds of cruelty against our People and his status, it makes you wonder to what level he had taken his cruelty. In all of this historical knowledge that is available people still want to celebrate and hold in high esteem this murderer.
If we were to celebrate Hitler Day, or Mussolini Day, or some other murderer and initiator of violence and genocide, there would be widespread condemnation. It would be like celebrating Bush Day in Iraq. It’s kind of sad to say that even mentioning Columbus in my comments gives him more recognition that he should have. So I agree wholeheartedly with all of you out there that have chosen to call this Indigenous Day. If I weren’t Native American or as some of have come to say – Indigenous, I would still love our ways and cling to our ways and cherish our ways. I see our ways as the way to the future, for the world. Where as I and others have said over and over, and our People before us, this earth is our Mother. This earth is life. And anything you take from the earth creates a debt that is to be paid back at some time in the future by someone . . . ” (Leonard Peltier)
When is the last time you contributed to the ABCF Warchest, a program that gives monthly stipends to political prisoners and prisoners of war with little other means of support. When is the last time you ran along side the prisoners, from the other side of the walls? Now’s your chance.
Click above for info on LA run. Click below for info on NYC run.
Jaan Lamaan and other prisoners will be running to support this effort from prison. Click below to hear Jaan Lamaan’s podcast message!
Under the state of new york and similar states not terribly long ago, and in other parts of the world more recently, there are many examples for how political prisoners and prisoners of war gain freedom. It can be done.
Meanwhile, today in new york state, many of these avenues are closed or not working. As much as people are trying and possibly making strides toward bigger, stronger, tighter, more disciplined movements with broad and deep community involvement and support, capable of great deeds, time is ticking. Movement prisoners are getting older under harsh conditions and with horribly lacking healthcare and nutrition.
Most pps and pows in new york state prisons are facing special repression and discrimination for their political activity, views, and/or affiliations. Political discrimination and related vendettas may be keeping them locked up. However, there’s no way to tell, because the thing that is definitely keeping them locked up is also keeping many, many new york state prisoners locked up, regardless of politics.
NY State lets very few so-called “A1 violent felons” out . . . Ever. And they don’t let too many people out at all.
NY’s ruling elite have the conundrum of
1) needing to keep large sections of the population well below poverty levels so as to keep wages down and keep business profitable
2) needing to manage their “reserve army of labor” so that crime and revolt can’t hamper quality of life for the wealthy.
They do this through policing and mass imprisonment and part of their approach is keeping people locked up indefinitely at the expense of families, communities, and tax payers. (Recommended reading: Lockdown America by Christian Parenti)
The infuriating thing is that ny state just passed a law requiring the state parole board to use a risk-assessment procedure rather than using the “severity of the crime” as an excuse to keep people locked away forever, and they’re ignoring it. The parole board has elected to use the new procedure without allowing it to interfere with their old procedure or lack thereof. They have, in effect, arrogantly circumvented the law so as to keep a large group of people indefinitely under lock and key . . .
Excerpts from article . . .
“Effect of Risk Assessment Rule on Parole Decisions is Unclear”
April 30, 2012
ALBANY - A new law requiring the state parole board to consider inmates’ rehabilitation and use a “risk assessment” procedure to gauge whether parole-eligible inmates have reformed appears to be having little effect as release rates are largely unchanged and the board is routinely basing its denials on boilerplate statutory language emphasizing the offense, records suggest.
In October, the panel was legislatively required to “incorporate risk and needs principles to measure the rehabilitation of persons appearing before the board, the likelihood of success of such persons upon release.”
The board did so, but advocates say the new process appears to have no impact. . . .
In the meantime, advocates, and lawmakers who helped get the item into a budget bill, view the revision as a mandatory shift in focus, with the parole board directed to view eligible inmates in the light of who they have become rather than who they were when they committed their crime.
But the board sees it simply as an updated mechanism for viewing an inmate’s rehabilitation, one of the several statutory factors it already takes into consideration.
In an Oct. 5 memo to her colleagues explaining the new provision, parole board chair Andrea Evans directed the members to “ascertain what steps an inmate has taken toward their rehabilitation and the likelihood of their success once released to parole supervision.”
But Evans also advised the board that “the standard for assessing the appropriateness of release, as well as the statutory criteria…has not changed.”
But Philip Genty, a professor at Columbia Law School and director of its Prisoners and Families Clinic, is not sure there has been no change in the statutory standards, even though the section that lists the criteria is unaltered.
Genty noted that Executive Law §259-i(2)(a) says that release determinations must be in accordance with guidelines requiring written procedures focused on rehabilitation.
“In that sense, the criteria have changed, and parole seems to be out of compliance with the new requirements,” Genty said.
. . . . • The release rate for A-1 violent offenders appearing for the first time has decreased considerably since the new law took effect. So far this year, fewer than 4 percent have been granted parole. Last year, 10 percent were released, and 11 percent were granted parole in 2009 and 2010.
If you agree about this being infuriating, while this has your attention, take a moment to write, call, and/or email Chairwoman Andrea Evans. . .
Andrea W. Evans, Chairwoman
New York State Division of Parole
97 Central Ave
Albany, NY 12206
RE: Recent Amendment of Executive Law §259-c(4)
- express your concern and outrage over the parole commissioner’s arrogant refusal to adhere to the guidelines/standard of the new parole law now in effect
- demand that the parole commissioners stop refusing parole to those parole candidates who have long completed their court-set minimum sentences
- ask why those serving 25-life for violent felonies are condemned to additional 35 or more years for their crimes. Ask what is the purpose of rehabilitation and good behavior if nobody can get out?
- If you’re a new york state tax-payer, say so, and say that you don’t want your tax dollars going to keep people indefinitely in prison when the budget is so tight and money could be spent on other things.
- Say that people need to be reunited with their families and communities.
“You may also contact the Governor’s office by phone (518) 474-8390 or mail:”
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Once you’ve sent your letter and/or made your call, repost or reblog.
I should also mention that a tremendous reform of prison policy has been achieved at least on paper. . .
I truly hope that new york state, and other u.s. states and the federal system, will abide by these new guidelines rather than say, reverting to existing practices which have been horrific for trans and gender-non-conforming people in prisons. Of course, people are watching to see.
Oh and PS, down with prisons and long live every neighborhood, block, building, village, worksite, — long live every group of people capable of working collectively, defending themselves, taking care of each other, and holding each other accountable for each other’s actions and working to heal each other and themselves. I’m talking about the real ones, not the fakers. People working and living like neighbors is way better than police and prisons and way better at achieving peace. If you are out there, doing that, keep doing it because you are what I believe in.