Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Hole: Case 2.
SCI Greene, CFCS, Solitary Confinement, and Folino: A Mother Tells The Story of Her Sons' Incarceration.

This is the second in a series of interviews related to solitary confinement in United States' prisons. We speak with the mother of two young, African American men who have both been confined to solitary confinement cells, better known as "the hole," for more than a year. Life inside the hole in United States' prisons has been described as akin to being buried alive.

The mother spoke to us on condition of anonymity out of fear that her sons might face retaliation for her efforts to bring to light their plight within detention systems here in the United States.

One of her sons, she says, has been awaiting trial for four years in Philadelphia's Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFCF), for a crime he says he did not commit. For almost a year, he has been confined in CFCF's hole.

The other, she says, on entering the Pennsylvania prison system, was struggling with severe mental health issues; but instead of being provided with psychological treatment, he was placed and in the hole. Later, after beginning his prison term in SCI Cresson's solitary confinement unit, she explains, he was eventually transferred to SCI Greene. He was assigned to the hole at Greene, she tells us, and remains there after being denied a request in December to be released into the general prison population.

The current administration of SCI Greene is headed by Superintendent Louis Folino. Under his supervision, cases of cruel and unusual punishment--such as the confinement of Russell "Maroon" Shoatz to 21 years in Greene's hole-- have persisted .

The mother asks that anyone interested in helping to end the cruel and unusual treatment of her sons contact the People at On The Block Radio, who will then forward the message onto her. Our email address is

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Special Post.
People's Tribunal Against Police Brutality and Misconduct-Philadelphia.

On January 15, 2011, members of the Askia Coalition Against Police Brutality convened a tribunal to address the incidents of police brutality in Philadelphia. This 17-minute radio piece contains excerpts from the testimony of expert witnesses and victims of police brutality (Basiymah Muhammed, Abdus Sabur, Annette Dickerson, among others); as well as interviews with members of the Askia Coalition Against Police Brutality.

The Askia Coalition Against Police Brutality was formed in the wake of the attack against Askia Sabur in West Philadelphia on September 3, 2010 as a vehicle for putting an end to the phenomenom of police brutality in Philadelphia.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Police Brutality Case 01.12.10: Jordan Miles.
Police Brutality Case 08.30.10: John T. Williams.

Thanks for joining us for another edition of "On The Block Radio," the show that takes a critical look at the criminal justice system.

On tonight's show, we will speak with Seattle activist, Fern Renville, about John T. Williams.

On August 30, 2010, John T. Williams was shot and killed as he walked down a Seattle street. He was a well-known woodcarver in the Seattle area, and minutes before he was killed, he was holding a knife that was 3 inches long--less than the minimum length that a knife needs to be to be considered illegal to carry in public.

He was 50 years old, a Native American, homeless, deaf, and many people believe a fatality of police brutality. Aspects of the incident were captured by a police car video camera. (Video of parts of the incident can be seen HERE.) On that video tape are heard shots being fired only four seconds after Williams was directed to drop the knife he was carrying. And according to Fern Renville, a community member actively involved in bringing about justice in this case, a medical examiners' report states that Williams appears to have been shot from the side, not from the front as one would have expected if he was lunging towards the officer with the knife.

An inquest into the case is scheduled to take place on Monday, January 10th.
Then, we will talk with Brandi Fisher of the Alliance for Police Accountability about Jordan Miles.

On January 12, 2010, Jordan Miles, an 18 year-old senior at CAPA high school in Pittsburgh, where he was an honor student, was beaten up by police as he walked to his grandmother's house. Over the course of the attack, he was hit with a tree branch and patches of his neat locks were pulled from his hair, according to Brandi Fisher of the Justice for Jordan Miles Campaign and the Alliance for Police Accountability.

According to a statement published by Jordan Miles' family and posted on the Justice for Jordan Miles Campaign website, the police officers jumped out of their car near Miles, yelling, "Where’s the gun, where’s the money, where’s the drugs?” Because the officers were in plain clothes and their car was unmarked, Miles did not immediately assume that they were cops. Instead, he thought he was being robbed and began to run. When the cops overtook him, he was beaten, arrested and subsequently charged with 2 counts of aggravated assault, loitering and prowling at nighttime, escape and resisting arrest. Although all charges were subsequently thrown out, his face was badly swollen and he faces permanent nerve damage, and according to Brandi Fisher, still struggles emotionally as a result of what happened that night.

The one year anniversary of his brutalization by police will be marked by a vigil at 7:00pm at the site of the police attack: Tioga and Rosedale Street in Pittsburgh.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Hole: Case 1.
Russell Maroon Shoatz Seeks Release From Solitary Confinement After 21 Years.

Russell "Maroon" Shoatz, former black panther member, has been in solitary confinement for 21 years. The Pennsylvania Department Of Corrections has recommended that Russell "Maroon" Shoatz be released into the general prison population after spending 21 years in solitary confinement. However, family members say there is strong evidence to believe that Superintendent Folino may block efforts to release him. Shoatz hasn't had any infractions in the last 21 years. He is to appear before the Program Review Board on Jan 5, 2011, regarding the question of his release from solitary confinement.

We speak with the son and daughter of Russell "Maroon" Shoatz--Teresea Shoatz and Russell Shoatz III--about their father's situation.
The family asks that individuals write the officials listed below or call their offices non-stop and request Russell "Maroon" Shoatz's release into the general prison population.

Superintendent Folino: Phone 724.852.2903.
Superintendent Folino's Addresss: 169 Progress Drive, Waynesburg, PA 15370
Secretary of Pennsylvania Prisons, Shirley Moore Smeal Phone: 717-975-4918

To download a petition form letter, please CLICK HERE.