Behind the Pennsylvania Prison Lockdown: Public Health Crisis or Powerplay?

This article is published in partnership with Truthout. Patricia Marshall Vickers still remembers the week in late August 2018 when she stopped hearing from her son. Incarcerated in Pennsylvania since he was 17 years old, Vickers’s son faithfully called his mother from prison at least every other day—until suddenly, he didn’t. Vickers learned that other family members were […]

Seven Days in Solitary [12/24/17]

• Arthur Johnson, a 65-year-old man currently serving a life sentence at State Correctional Institution Greene in Pennsylvania, was awarded $325,000 in a settlement for being subjected to 37 years of solitary confinement. Johnson claimed in the lawsuit that the prolonged solitary confinement constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated his due process rights. It’s […]

After 33 Years in Solitary Confinement, Former Black Panther Russell Shoatz Will Have His Day in Court

Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, a former Black Panther who escaped from Pennsylvania prisons twice in the 1970s, was held in solitary confinement for nearly thirty-three years, including twenty-two consecutive years, from 1991 to 2014. During that time, Shoatz was in confined to his cell, in complete social isolation, for 23-24 hours a day. He contends that his time […]

Pennsylvania Prison System Faces Lawsuit Over Suicide of Young Man with Mental Illness

On July 17, 2012, Brandon Palakovic, 23, committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell while housed in a solitary confinement unit at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Cresson, a Pennsylvania prison that has since closed its doors. Nearly two years later, on July 8, 2014, Palakovic’s parents filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC). […]