Supporters Petition DA Salavantis to Drop the Case

For Immediate Release 

Contact:  Shandre Delaney
Phone: (412) 403-6101

Family Members Petition DA to Drop Case Against Prisoners

Luzerne County, PA - December 2, 2013- Family members and supporters of PA state prisoners accused of riot at SCI Dallas in 2010 are calling on the District Attorney of Luzerne County to drop the case, before the trial set to begin on December 9th. They will deliver petitions to DA Salavantis and convene at the Luzerne County Courthouse today at noon.

In April of 2010, six prisoners who were incarcerated at SCI Dallas covered their cell windows with towels and barricaded their cell doors leading to cell extractions by prison guards. The prisoners were removed from their cells, pepper sprayed and tased by correctional officers, strip searched, and moved to different cells. The prisoners filed grievances against the prison on conditions of confinement and food deprivation leading up to the events and wrote to outside human rights agencies. The Department of Corrections filed riot charges against the prisoners in July of 2010.

Since 2010, one prisoner has been released from prison and plead out of this case, and another, Duane Peters, has been removed from the case and will be tried separately. Court watcher, Debby Rabold, attended a preliminary hearing for 5 of the prisoners on September 19th in Judge Lisa Gelb's court, and found that one of the prisoners had not been arraigned yet and one had not been transported to the hearing. 

"If the District Attorney had any factual evidence against the inmates with which to proceed, the case would have been adjudicated long ago. Lacking evidence, the case has been continued month after month for over three years -- all at the expense of tax dollars which could have, and should have been, spent more wisely," Rabold said.

"After watching the 35 minute cell extraction video of Carrington Keys, it becomes clear that the conditions of confinement are inhumane," says Amanda Johnson of the Human Rights Coalition FedUp! "The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture concluded that solitary confinement for over 15 days could be defined as torture. No one should have to live or work under these principles and procedures. "

Prisoners who are housed in the Restricted Housing Unit within the PA Department of Corrections are confined to their cells for 23 hours a day with little recreation or social stimulation. Prisoners can be held in the Restricted Housing Unit for years for disciplinary or administrative reasons. The Disability Rights Network filed a lawsuit against the PA Department of Corrections last March on behalf of prisoners with serious mental illness being held in solitary confinement and not receiving treatment. The U.S. Department of Justice expanded their investigation from two to all PA prisons this past year.

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