By his 70th birthday in 2013, Russell Maroon Shoatz had spent nearly 30 years in extreme solitary confinement. A prisoner in Pennsylvania’s Restricted Housing Unit (RHU), Shoatz spent 23 hours each day confined to a 7-by-12-foot cell. He ate all his meals alone inside that cell. He slept under lights that were never turned off. He was not allowed any educational, vocational, or group programming. Five days a week, he was permitted to spend one hour in a fenced-in exercise cage. Each time he left his cell, he was strip-searched and placed in shackles. When his family came to visit, he was placed in a booth and made to communicate with them from behind plexiglass. He could not hug his children or hold his grandchildren. Shoatz remained in handcuffs and leg irons during visits.
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