Pennsylvania legislators are trying to stop prisoners from speaking about their ideas and experience

This comes from Decarcerate PA‘s website. It sounds like an illegal move to silence people’s voices. What about the victims of police violence? Will they not be ‘victimised’ by their attackers’ presence everywhere, incl. the police and former police who have written this proposed law? Vermont College is not even in PA, so is Mumia Abu-Jamal, also not allowed to speak in other states, countries? This law is just an act of vengeance.  

Pennsylvania Legislators threaten to silence people in prison. TAKE ACTION today
On Oct 14th: call your legislators!

[Here is another article about this anti-human rights attack of politicians in Pennsylvania]

Pennsylvania legislators are trying to stop prisoners from speaking about their ideas and experiences. Last week, PA Representative Mike Vereb introduced a bill (HB2533) called the “Revictimization Relief Act,” which would allow victims, District Attorneys, and the Attorney General to sue people who have been convicted of “personal injury” crimes for speaking out publicly if it causes the victim of the crime “mental anguish.”

The bill was written in response to political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s commencement speech at Goddard College, and is a clear attempt to silence Mumia and other prisoners and formerly incarcerated people. We believe that this legislation is not actually an attempt to help victims, but a cynical move by legislators to stop people in prison from speaking out against an unjust system.

While to us this seems like a clear violation of the first amendment, unfortunately the PA General Assembly doesn’t appear to agree, and they have fast-tracked the bill for approval and amended another bill (SB508) to include the same language. The legislation could be voted on as early as Wednesday.

If this bill passes, it will be a huge blow to the movement against mass incarceration. People inside prisons play a leading role in these struggles, and their perspectives, analysis, and strategies are essential to our work. Incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people who write books, contribute to newspapers, or even write for our Voices from the Inside section would run the risk of legal consequences just for sharing their ideas.

That’s why we are asking you to take action TUESDAY OCTOBER 14 by calling Pennsylvania lawmakers to tell them that prisoners should not be denied the right to speak.

Please call your legislators and demand that they vote NO on HB2533 and SB508. You can look up contact information at http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/.

We are also asking folks to call the following Senate leaders and ask them to stop the bill from moving forward:

Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne  (717) 787-1349
Senate Minority Whip Anthony Williams  (717) 787-5970
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi  (717) 787-4712
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (717) 787-7683

– See more at: http://decarceratepa.info/freespeech#sthash.OJAHxMbA.dpuf

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Pennsylvania legislators are trying to stop prisoners from speaking about their ideas and experience

This comes from Decarcerate PA‘s website. It sounds like an illegal move to silence people’s voices. What about the victims of police violence? Will they not be ‘victimised’ by their attackers’ presence everywhere, incl. the police and former police who have written this proposed law? Vermont College is not even in PA, so is Mumia Abu-Jamal, also not allowed to speak in other states, countries? This law is just an act of vengeance.  

[Here is another article about this anti-human rights attack of politicians in Pennsylvania]

Pennsylvania Legislators threaten to silence people in prison. TAKE ACTION today
On Oct 14th: call your legislators!

Pennsylvania legislators are trying to stop prisoners from speaking about their ideas and experiences. Last week, PA Representative Mike Vereb introduced a bill (HB2533) called the “Revictimization Relief Act,” which would allow victims, District Attorneys, and the Attorney General to sue people who have been convicted of “personal injury” crimes for speaking out publicly if it causes the victim of the crime “mental anguish.”

The bill was written in response to political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s commencement speech at Goddard College, and is a clear attempt to silence Mumia and other prisoners and formerly incarcerated people. We believe that this legislation is not actually an attempt to help victims, but a cynical move by legislators to stop people in prison from speaking out against an unjust system.

While to us this seems like a clear violation of the first amendment, unfortunately the PA General Assembly doesn’t appear to agree, and they have fast-tracked the bill for approval and amended another bill (SB508) to include the same language. The legislation could be voted on as early as Wednesday.

If this bill passes, it will be a huge blow to the movement against mass incarceration. People inside prisons play a leading role in these struggles, and their perspectives, analysis, and strategies are essential to our work. Incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people who write books, contribute to newspapers, or even write for our Voices from the Inside section would run the risk of legal consequences just for sharing their ideas.

That’s why we are asking you to take action TUESDAY OCTOBER 14 by calling Pennsylvania lawmakers to tell them that prisoners should not be denied the right to speak.

Please call your legislators and demand that they vote NO on HB2533 and SB508. You can look up contact information at http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/.

We are also asking folks to call the following Senate leaders and ask them to stop the bill from moving forward:

Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne  (717) 787-1349
Senate Minority Whip Anthony Williams  (717) 787-5970
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi  (717) 787-4712
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (717) 787-7683

– See more at: http://decarceratepa.info/freespeech#sthash.OJAHxMbA.dpuf

Please Sign and Share for Avis and Charmaine!

Please sign and share these important Petitions: 

Avis Lee

For Avis Lee: in prison in Pennsylvania since 1980, to get her parole.

For Charmaine Pfender: in prison in Pennsylvania since 29 years, to get her released.

Read more about their cases and the Women in Prison Defense Committee Let’s Get Free here.

Donna Hill and Charmaine Pfender (Mother and Daughter)

Thank you!

Russell Maroon Shoats moved to general population

We received this good message via Facebook (Bret Grote): 

“Victory! I just got off a phone call with Russell Maroon Shoatz at SCI Graterford. This morning he was placed in the general population of the prison, ending more than 22 consecutive years of solitary confinement. He is VERY happy, and sends his gratitude to all of his supporters.”


Thanks to so many people working tirelessly, like the family and friends of Russell, and people of the Abolitionist Law Center, and so many who signed petitions, called in, wrote letters, etc.

Let’s keep working to get real justice for Russell Maroon Shoats and all others in difficult positions, wrongfully incarcerated, in solitary confinement for endless times, etc.

Message from Maroon – Action Alert

From the Human Rights Coalition – Action Alert:


“This was the third strike – now we either go hard, or go home.”
Greetings! A very happy new year to all my supporters and loved ones!
By now you are aware that I am being housed in an underground cell at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Graterford, in a part of the Restricted Housing Unit known as J Block, which is used to house the criminally insane.
My rapid response team has also got word to you about the conditions in this dungeon: a few days after my arrival I cleaned the human feces off the walls of my cell with my own hands; when it rains, water leaks through a hole in the roof and floods my cell – with heavy rains expected, I am sure this problem will only get worse.
The screaming and banging coming from the surrounding cells of mentally challenged inmates, plus the 24-hour fluorescent lights, make it impossible to concentrate, let alone sleep.
Those of you who have been closely following my situation know that I am being subjected to these conditions DESPITE successfully completing the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC)’s 60-day “step-down” program at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Frackville, which was conducted with the express purpose of releasing me from the hole into the general prison population.
My current circumstances make two things very clear:
  • First, that the Department of Corrections CANNOT be trusted to play by their own rules;
  • Second, that my isolation in the hole has NOTHING to do with administrative or disciplinary concerns but is instead a punishment for my political beliefs, and the prison administration’s fear that these beliefs will reach other prisoners.  They fear that I will awaken the dead . . .
For years, the PA DOC has tried to crush my fighting spirit by keeping me locked up in the hole. This move to SCI Graterford – my third transfer in six months – is just the latest in a series of attempts to test my resolve; it is also, in my opinion, the third strike.
I am here to tell you all that my will is holding strong. I am a political prisoner: imprisoned because I stood up against oppression, and I continue to support all those who stand up against repression everywhere.
My perspective is one thousand years of struggle. My commitment has been – and will always be – the liberation of black people. In that spirit let me say that 2014 is not going to be a year of taking abuse and torture lying down: it is a year in which we either go HARD, or go HOME!
I am calling on you, my supporters, loved ones and friends, to answer that call. This year I am asking you all to do whatever it takes to end the torture of 23-hour isolation and bring an end to this miscarriage of justice.
STRAIGHT AHEAD!           
Russell MAROON Shoatz
# AF-3855, 
P.O. Box 244, 
Graterford, PA 19426-0246
***
ACTION ALERT & UPDATE: CONTINUE THE PRESSURE!
Thank you to all supporters for answering the call to action!  Your phone calls and letters are WORKING.  Maroon received a blanket, clothes, his personal belongings, and his medication. 
Maroon appreciates all your support and diligent action on his behalf. 
However, he is not OUT of this torturous situation.  SCI Graterford authorities still have him buried in solitary confinement – the same Restricted Housing Unit for the criminally insane.  It is an underground dungeon that floods and where the lights are on 24 hours a day.  It is also where Maroon has to endure continuous banging and cries for help from mentally ill prisoners suffering in the same unit.
The time is now to RAMP UP the pressure on Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) Secretary John Wetzel and SCI Superintendent Wenerowicz and Graterford authorities demanding that they immediately remove Maroon from this present condition and release him into general population.    
PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel and PA DOC administrators continue to double cross Maroon by not fulfilling their verbal and written promises to release him into general population even after successfully completing a 60 day Step Down Program at SCI Frackville last fall 2013.
As Maroon stated, “the Dept. of Corrections cannot be trusted to play by their own rules.”
We are asking supporters to INTENSIFY the calls, faxes, and letters to PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel, Superintendent Wenerocwicz, and Graterford authorities.   Remember, Maroon has made the call to “go HARD or go home!”
CALL, FAX, & SEND SEPARATE LETTERS TO:
SCI Graterford Superintendent Michael Wenerowicz
 and 
SCI Graterford RHU J Block Manager Mr. Terra,
P.O. Box 246, 
Graterford, PA 19426-0246 
Phone: 610-489-4151 
FAX: 484-961-7907 
to let them know:
·  We are concerned members of the community who are monitoring the situations involving inmate Russell Shoatz and the conditions he is being held under,
·  We are expecting that SCI Graterford will be accepting the information regarding Shoatz’ successful completion of the step-down program at SCI Frackville, and their recommendation that he be released from Restricted Housing into General Population,
·  We hold PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel and PA DOC administrators responsible for failing to fulfill their promises to release Russell Shoatz into General Population,
·  We request that you immediately remove Russell Shoatz out of the J Block cell for the criminally insane because he doesn’t belong nor deserve to be there, the conditions are torturous, and he is not under Disciplinary Custody, AND
·  We also request that SCI Graterford transfer Russell Shoatz into General Population as promised by Secretary Wetzel and PA DOC authorities.
For letters and faxes, please use the same talking points (letters: return receipt requested).
CALL, FAX, & SEND LETTERS OF CONCERN, PA DOC SUPERINTENDENT JOHN WETZEL, 1920 Technology Parkway, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050, Phone: 717-728-4109, FAX 717-728-4178 to let him know:
·  We are frustrated and angry at the continued delays, and unfulfilled promises, and unwarranted treatment of inmate Russell Shoatz with his most recent transfer into a feces infested cell where the criminally insane are housed in the J Block unit at SCI Graterford.
·  His consistent good faith efforts to abide by all State Correctional procedures for transfer to general population have successfully earned him the support of prison official and administrators at SCI Mahanoy and Frackville.
·  In light of recent US Department of Justice findings that Pennsylvania State Prisons have used solitary confinement in direct violation of inmates’ constitutional rights, and United Nations guidelines regarding the illegality of using restrictive housing for punitive, long-term purposes, we write with concern that Shoatz’ continued placement in restricted housing constitutes an act of torture: cruel and unusual punishment.

·  As voters and community members, we demand Shoatz’ immediate release into general population, and will continue to closely monitor this situation until Shoatz’ conditions are safe and legal.

Petition to Dismiss all charges against Dallas 5

MORE CORRUPTION FROM THE COUNTY WHERE KIDS FOR CASH SCANDAL TOOK PLACE
In April 2010, at SCI Dallas (PA), after a series of abuses at the hands of corrections officials, 6 prisoners housed in the solitary confinement unit decided they had enough and decided to stage a peaceful protest in response to the inhumane conditions and mistreatment of prisoners. Each prisoner involved in the protest is now collectively referred to as the Dallas 5.    
After enduring abuses, official misconduct and outright administrative corruption, these men decided it was time to do something about the inhumane conditions, immediately, before another prisoner died or is brutally harmed.  The guards were beating inmates and promised these men were next. 
These men who peacefully covered their cell doors and barricaded doors are being charged with riot.  All they did was ask for an outside official. They were protecting themselves from harm.   They committed no violent acts, yet violence was inflicted upon them by the guards in riot gear.  They were pepper sprayed, beaten and tased.  These men are in solitary confinement, which means they are in a single cell 24/7 with no contact.  They did not cause or create riot!  They had no ability to do so!  They are being charged with riot because they have lawsuits against the prison and guards.  Some of them are pro se lawyers who have gone against the DOC as their own attorney.  This is frowned upon and retaliated against on a massive level.  These same men contributed to the Human Rights Coalition report which detailed ongoing abuses and human rights violations within the dungeons of this state and especially at SCI Dallas. 
As revealed in the Human Rights Coalition report and before the House of Representatives, there has long been a policy within the prison walls of Dallas and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) to operate a corrupt administration under an iron wall of silence.  Under this iron wall or code of silence, SCI Dallas, PA DOC, District Attorney’s Office, as well as the Pennsylvania State Police operates in participation and conjunction with one another to cover up crimes and misconduct by state offices by overlooking video footage of officers caught on video tape committing human rights violations.
 This case should be thrown out.  Besides the fact that charges are bogus here are some of the reasons it should be dismissed:
 • Discovered that one man was not arraigned and after more research that none of the men were arraigned in a timely manner.

• They have wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars in housing, transportation and court costs bringing them back and forth across the state for their dog and pony show. The first time they brought them under heavy security with helicopters.
• They brought them to court illegally while the case was in the supreme court in September 2012 but when they guys spoke up that it was illegal they ended the hearing and removed the hearing from dockets like it never existed.

• The charges only carry a short sentence and are ordinarily handled through the prison disciplinary system.
•In 3 ½ years they have been before the court on at least 6 occasions and have not even had pre-trial because the prosecution continues to postpone due to their own errors.
•It is evident that if they had a case it would have been adjudicated long ago.
These men do not want sympathy; they want to do their time without being subjected to racism and violence by staff. These false charges should be dropped.  Mr. Peters who is still being tortured at SCI Dallas, should be moved out of there.  Taxpayer’s money is being wasted on a personal vendetta.  The crime here is what is really going on with in the bowels of our “justice and prison” system.  They should be on trial and not these men.
For more information and updates about the case please visit:
————————- 
Text of the petition:
To: Luzerne County DA Stephanie Salavantis, Luzerne County Court
Dismiss all charges against Dallas 5

The Dallas 5 are Andre Jacobs, Carrington Keys, Duane Peters, Anthony Locke and Derrick Stanley.

Besides the fact that it is a false and retaliatory complaint, there are many reasons for dismissal of charges. These are only a few:

• The county and DOC have wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars in housing, transportation and court costs bringing them back and forth across the state for a personal vendetta
• Pre-trial has been delayed at least 6 times due to prosecution errors.
• It has take over 3 1/2 years to prosecute a 3rd class felony
• The men have endured well documented human rights abuses at SCI Dallas
• The only people injured during the incident were the prisoners
• They have a right to a speedy trial and this has been anything but a speedy trial
• Covering your window is a violation of DOC policy and should have been handled internally not through the courts
• Covering your window is not a riot!
Sincerely,
[Your name] 

Mumia: Free Lorenzo Johnson

CAT’S CRIES
[col. writ. 10/20/13] © ’13 Mumia Abu-Jamal

Several days ago, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in Philadelphia, delivered a shocking decision in the continuing case of Lorenzo Johnson, the New Yorker recently released from 17 years in prison after the very same court found the evidence was insufficient to uphold a conviction.

Lorenzo (known by family and friends as Cat), spent just over 4 months in freedom, until a U.S. Supreme Court per curlem opinion, without arguments or briefing, summarily ordered his return to a life sentence for a murder that the evidence shows he did not, and could not, have committed.

In the year since his return to PA prisons, his lawyers have uncovered a wealth of evidence that reveals not only his innocence, but that of his co-accused. Indeed, they have shown that the State knowingly used false evidence to secure a conviction from Day One. Moreover, it appears the state’s star witness, a notorious crack fiend, may herself have been an accomplice in the slaying of a small-time Harrisburg drug dealer.

But back to the shocking decision. The 3rd Circuit, after receiving an extraordinary writ that proved every facet of the original trial was corrupt, said the petition didn’t meet the standard for a second habeas corpus writ.

A few days ago, Cat sat with the recently freed NY exonerated prisoner, Jeff Deskovic, and both men quietly wept.

In the face of such bold injustice, what more can men do?

No sober judge, reading such pleadings as his lawyers filed, could in good conscience say it didn’t prove the injustices claimed. But judges today are seldom sober.
They are political actors who wear robes, instead of suits.  And their job is to protect a system of corruption, lest the whole system collapse under its monstrous weight.

For Cat, the struggle continues.

In fact, a serious post-conviction petition is now pending in the county court in Harrisburg, PA.
We’re watching.

Note: for more info: www.freelorenzojohnson.org.
–© ‘13maj

Lorenzo Johnson is an Innocent Man!
Released from Prison– only to be Re-incarcerated!

Sign the petition

http://www.freelorenzojohnson.org/how-can-i-help.html