Oct. 28, 2021

HARRISBURG – Following the release of cop-killer Russell “Maroon” Shoatz ordered by a Philadelphia Common Pleas judge, Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland), Rep. Barry Jozwiak (R-Berks) and Rep. Jim Rigby (R-Johnstown) announced today they will be introducing legislation to limit the law that gives judges discretion in granting early release to murderers and other serious violent offenders.

“While there needs to be a balance within our public safety system between the victims, law enforcement, criminal justice and the judiciary, there are crimes that are so heinous, and individuals who commit those crimes whose records show no remorse and further violence, that a life sentence should mean an entire life’s sentence,” Delozier said. “Mr. Shoatz is a cop killer, and while in prison, he has shown himself to be a danger and continued menace to society.”

“The many multiple violent crimes Mr. Shoatz committed both in and during his escapes from prison should make it clear to any reasonable person that he should never have a breath of free air again,” Rigby said. “But current law allows even the most violent criminals to get early release from prison if they become terminally ill. While compassionate release of some inmates is humane, other violent offenders like Mr. Shoatz ought never be released. We are preparing legislation to make sure this law cannot be applied to the most violent of offenders.”

“Russell Shoatz is the epitome of a person who should spend every moment of the rest of their life behind bars,” Jozwiak said. “This man left victims scattered throughout Pennsylvania - have all his victims been heard? Thanks to his crimes, the answer is no.”

Working with Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), their planned legislation will exclude murders, sex offenses and other crimes of violence; require offenders to serve at least 75% of their sentence; require offenders to have paid all restitution to victims; and require the court to receive input from the victim or the victim’s next of kin before considering the possibility of granting early parole.

In 1970, Shoatz participated in an attack on a Philadelphia police guardhouse, killing Sgt. Frank Von Colln and seriously wounded Patrolman James Harrington. Shoatz was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. While in prison, Shoatz was involved in planning and carrying out several riots and escapes. In one instance, he kidnapped a corrections guard and his family (including a 5-year-old son) at knifepoint, then tied them to a tree where they remained for several hours while Shoatz went on the run for 27 days. In 1980, using a submachine gun and revolver, he again escaped his corrections facility. 

“This person should never see the light of day outside of prison. Never once has he shown remorse for the lives and families he ruined, and he does not deserve compassion from the state,” Kauffman said. “Our job is to protect Pennsylvania communities from dangerous and violent people, and that is what the Judiciary Committee will do as we look to tighten and strengthen the law.”

Representative Sheryl Delozier
88th District
Representative Barry Jozwiak
5th District
Representative Jim Rigby
71st District
Representative Rob Kauffman
89th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact:  Tricia Lehman