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Prisoner in solitary confinement unit at SCI Rockview dies after cell extraction

Published as a letter to the editor.
Alleged homicide at SCI Rocvkiew

Prisoner in solitary confinement unit at SCI Rockview dies after cell extraction


Contact: [email protected] (412) 654-9070


The Human Rights Coalition has received reports from multiple prisoners in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Rockview in central Pennsylvania that John Carter, a state prisoner, was killed by prison staff performing a cell extraction on April 26, 2012. According to witness accounts, staff in riot gear filled his solitary confinement cell with an extraordinary quantity of OC chemical munitions, otherwise known as pepper-spray. Following the attack with pepper-spray, his cell door was opened and guards rushed him, assaulting Carter, who was reportedly unconscious, with electro-shock weapons and beating him.


We have also received a report that Carter was subject to a cell extraction on April 19 as well, during which he was also attacked with pepper spray. Prisoners in the RHU have reported to HRC that staff have been issuing fabricated misconducts, depriving prisoners of food, and intensifying abusive behavior.


The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections issued a press release stating that John Carter "was found unresponsive in his cell." The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections' Office of Special Investigations and Intelligence told an HRC advocate that the Pennsylvania State Police investigate all prisoner deaths that are not the result of natural causes, but a letter from a prisoner in the RHU at SCI Rockview dated April 29 stated that nobody who was celled near John Carter has been approached by an investigator. A call to SCI Rockview by an HRC advocate was not returned.


Members of the press investigating the alleged homicide of John Carter are advised of the following information:


  • All uses of force require participating staff members to issue reports;
  • All cell extractions are filmed by a hand-held video camera;
  • John Carter was reportedly being held in a cell with a camera in it;
  • John Carter had been held in solitary confinement for years at various PA prisons;
  • HRC has documented repeated instances of prisoner protest, staff retaliation, and even prisoner suicides that have not been investigated by the PA DOC.


SCI Rockview's Superintendent is Marirosa Lamas - 814-355-4874

PA DOC Secretaary John Wetzel - 717-975-4918

OSII Director, James Barnacle - 717-728-2033

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