Action Alert – Incarcerated Activists Held in Solitary Confinement Without Charge

Incarcerated human rights activists Robert Saleem Holbrook, Edward Monroe, Nate Butler, Tyree Little, and several others have been placed in the Restricted Housing Unit at SCI Coal Township, likely as an act of retaliation because of their courageous work as advocates for justice from within Pennsylvania's prisons.

As you may remember, Coal Township is the prison where over 1000 prisoners staged a week-long boycott of the prison dining hall to protest inadequate food access and other violations of their human rights, and is also currently facing a lawsuit for censoring political literature.

Please take a few minutes out of your day to call the Department of Corrections and demand that they all be released from solitary confinement immediately.

SCI Coal Township Superintendent Vincent Mooney: 570-644-7890

PADOC Secretary John Wetzel: 717-728-4109

More details and suggested talking points are below. You can also help us spread the word by forwarding this email to your networks and inviting your facebook friends here: on.fb.me/1qAJJA8

Thanks for calling!

Saleem HolbrookMore information from the Human Rights Coalition:

Human Rights Coalition member Robert Saleem Holbrook was placed in solitary confinement at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Coal Township on September 2, 2014. Prison staff informed him that he was under “investigation.” Take action today to put a stop to repression of human rights defenders in prison.

Saleem reports that the “investigation” was launched after a prisoner “cut” a guard on August 31st. He writes: “A white inmate that was just released from the hole after 6 years did it - gang related. He was caught - case should be closed but the Administration locked up mostly inmates that file grievances about Administration’s failure to follow policy and protect our rights. . . . The incident didn't even happen on the side of the compound I'm on. I'm on West Compound, incident happened on East Compound.”

Other human rights defenders thrown in solitary confinement without charge include Edward Monroe, Nate Butler, and Tyree Little.

While Saleem has not had a misconduct report in the last 10 years, he has been a consistent critic of mass incarceration and human rights violation within the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC). In addition to his essays (available at http://freesalim.net/), he has filed a lawsuit challenging censorship of political and human rights literature at SCI Coal Township, and participated in the historic June 2014 week-long boycott of the dining hall at SCI Coal Township. 

Saleem has dedicated himself to working with prisoners, their families, human rights defenders, and those communities most impacted by mass incarceration to build political resistance to the criminal injustice system. He does not engage in criminal or disruptive activities inside the prison, and there is no basis for his placement in solitary confinement.

Take action today and call in support of human rights defenders Robert Saleem Holbrook, Edward Monroe, Nate Butler, and Tyree Little. Demand that they be released to the general population:

Call:

SCI Coal Township Superintendent Vincent Mooney: 570-644-7890

PADOC Secretary John Wetzel: 717-728-4109

Talking Points:

1) Tell them you are calling about Robert Holbrook #BL5140, who is a human rights advocate currently imprisoned at SCI Coal Township. Report that he has been held in solitary confinement without a disciplinary charge since September 2, allegedly as part of an investigation, although he has not been charged or shown any evidence against him of wrongdoing.

2) Inform them that you are aware that a guard was recently attacked by another prisoner. Although this is a serious matter, it does not permit prison staff to throw prisoners in solitary confinement without reason – the incident occurred on the other side of the prison and Holbrook had nothing to do with it.

3) State that Holbrook has not had a rule violation in approximately 10 years, and that he is a committed human rights activist who is dedicated to the uplift of his community. He is not involved in prohibited activity.

4) Inform prison officials that Holbrook is currently involved in litigation against the PADOC for violation of his First Amendment rights, and that he and 1,300 others at SCI Coal Township have been advocating for improved living conditions and protection of basic human rights.

5) Explicitly state that SCI Coal Township’s continued solitary confinement of Holbrook without charge or evidence suggests that he is being targeted in retaliation for his human rights advocacy. 

6) Mention that other human rights advocates have been locked up without charge allegedly as part of the same investigation: Edward Monroe #DL5904; Nathaniel Butler #BQ0913; Tyree Little #EQ9609.

7) Request that the Superintendent Mooney and Secretary Wetzel immediately inquire into the matter and ensure that Holbrook, Monroe, Butler, and Little are released to the general population since there is no basis for their continued solitary confinement.

8) Tell them that you will be calling back to learn if the situation has been resolved, and will continue to monitor the prison’s conduct in this matter to ensure that Saleem’s human rights are not being violated by arbitrary placement in solitary confinement.