Former Black Panther wins $100k for being held in solitary confinement for 2-decades

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
  • Former Black Panther held for more than twenty-years in solitary confinement has won permanent reprieve from solitary after filing suit in federal court
  • Russel “Maroon” Shoatz was also awarded nearly $100,000 in a settlement with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
  • He was convicted of first-degree murder in 1970 for an attack on a Philadelphia police station that left one officer killed and another wounded
  • In the 1980s he got involved with the Pennsylvania Association of Lifers in an effort to abolish sentences of life without parole
  • “I have always chosen to fight! Frederick Douglass was right when he said ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’ So have no doubt that I see this settlement as anything but the latest blow struck,” Shoatz stated in a response to the settlement through his lawyers.
  • Many believe his solitary confinement was retaliation for his activism
  • Shoatz also escaped from prison, more than once
  • Shoatz injured a prison guard with a knife – he also went to a prison guard’s home and kidnapped the guard, his wife, and their 5-year-old son, tying them to a tree
  • Shoatz’s son says his dad wants to use the money to help released convicts reenter society
  • “No money can make up for what they did to my daddy,” says Theresa Shoatz, Russel’s daughter