Russell Maroon Shoatz, who has been locked in solitary confinement for 28 of the past 30 years, filed a lawsuit in May demanding an end to the torturous conditions of his confinement. Studies have shown that prisoners placed in extreme isolation can suffer profound psychological and physiological harm. According to a letter to the editor published by the New York Times on July 18,
If you have any doubts about the effectiveness of solitary confinement, lock yourself in your bathroom for two days without a phone, computer, television or radio. See what that does to your thinking. That is how our prison system works, and that is why we all pay for the system’s inability to deal with people it confines and punishes.
Shoatz’s supporters were cautiously optimistic that following his completion of a prison-initiated “step down program,” which he completed successfully, prison officials at State Correctional Institution Frackville would release him into the general population. Yet 10 days ago, officials informed Shoatz that they intended to transfer him to another prison instead. The prison to which he is transferred could then consider him for release into its general population.