LUCASVILLE, OHIO PRISONERS BEGIN HUNGER STRIKE AGAINST TORTURE CONDITIONS IN NEW YEAR

THE SPIRIT OF THE GEORGIA PRISON STRIKE SPREADS!

Hunger strike of the Lucasville Uprising prisoners – starting Monday, Jan. 3

Posted on December 25, 2010 by denverabc

Siddique Abdullah Hasan

Dear family members, friends and supporters of the Lucasville uprising prisoners,

Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Bomani Shakur (Keith LaMar), Jason Robb and Namir Mateen (James Were) will start a hunger strike on Monday Jan. 3 to protest their 23-hour a day lock down for nearly 18 years. These four death-sentenced prisoners have been single-celled (in solitary) in conditions of confinement significantly more severe than the conditions experienced by the approximately 125 other death-sentenced prisoners at the supermax prison, Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown. They are completely isolated from any direct human contact, even during “recreation”. They are restricted from certain kinds of good ordering including cold weather items for the almost unbearably cold conditions in the cells. They are denied access to computer databases they need in order to prepare their appeals. It has been made clear to them that the outcome of their annual “security level reviews” is predetermined, as one reads, “…regardless of your behavior while confined at OSP.”

Prisoners whose death sentences were for heinous crimes are able to win privileges based on good behavior, but not the death-sentenced Lucasville uprising prisoners.

Bomani Shakur

Meanwhile out in the world, the U.S. Supreme Court has granted additional due process rights to some of the Gauantanamo prisoners, some death-sentenced prisoners have been exonerated or had their sentences commuted, an evidentiary hearing was ordered for Troy Anthony Davis, and prisoners in Georgia are engaging in a non-violent strike for improvements in a wide range of conditions. So the four death-sentenced Lucasville uprising prinsoners have decided that being punished by the worst conditions allowable under the law has gone far enough, especially since their convictions were based on perjured testimony. They are innocent! They were wrongfully convicted! They are political prisoners. This farce has gone on far too long and their executions loom in the not too distant future. These brave men are ready to take another stand. We ask that you get ready to support them.

Jason Robb

The hunger strike will proceed in an organized manner, with one prisoner, probably Bomani Shakur starting on Jan.3. The hunger strike becomes official after he has refused 9 meals. Therefore the plan is that 3 days later, Siddiquie Abdullah Hasan will start his hunger strike and 3 days later, Jason Robb will follow. Namir Mateen has a great willingness to participate and plans to take part to the extent that his diabetes will allow.

On the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Saturday, Jan. 15, we will be holding a press conference about the hunger strike and other issues pertaining to Ohio State Penitentiary. Details of time and location are being worked out. There will very likely be a brief rally near the gates of OSP, as we have in previous years to honor Dr. King, to protest the death penalty and to protest the farce of the Lucasville uprising convictions. There will probably be one or more vans and/or a car caravan to OSP for the event. Stay tuned for more information.

Namir Mateen

Please forward this information to other people you think would be interested, here in Ohio, around the country and around the world

The Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network

Hunger Strike At Ohio State Penitentiary

By Staughton Lynd
Source: OhioCURE
Friday, December 31, 2010
 

 

http://www.zcommunications.org/hunger-strike-at-ohio-state-penitentiary-by-staughton-lynd

Go to Lucasville uprising to read first chapter of Lynd’s book.

As this is written on Christmas Eve, a small group of death-sentenced prisoners at the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) have declared their intention to begin a “rolling hunger strike” on Monday, January 3.

Who are they? What are their objectives? What is this all about?

Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising By Staughton Lynd

The four hunger strikers are Siddique Abdullah Hasan, formerly known as Carlos Sanders; Keith LaMar; Jason Robb; and Namir Abdul Mateen, also known as James Were. (A fifth member of the group, George Skatzes, was transferred out of OSP in 2000.)

All these men were sentenced to death in trials conducted in 1995-1996 for their alleged roles in the 11-day rebellion at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, Ohio in April 1993. See my book Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising (Temple University Press: 2004), to be re-issued in 2011 by PM Press, Oakland, CA, with a Foreword by Mumia Abu Jamal.

Hasan and Robb were two of the three men who negotiated a peaceful surrender. Tragically there were ten deaths during the disturbance (nine prisoners and one hostage officer). But thanks to the way the “Lucasville riot” ended, there were far fewer fatalities than at Attica, New York in 1971, where more than forty persons died.

At the request of Ohio authorities, Attorney Niki Schwartz of Cleveland helped to negotiate the surrender. During a forum on the Lucasville events held at Cleveland State University in November 2010, Attorney Schwartz asked, in effect:

If we seek the death penalty against men who helped to bring a bloody riot to a peaceful end, what will happen the next time?
Persistent Discrimination Against Death-Sentenced Lucasville Defendants
 

 

Lucasville uprising prisoners are housed under conditions tantamount to torture at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown

Judge James Gwin of federal district court noted with amazement during the trial of the prisoners’ class action, Austin v. Wilkinson, that death-sentenced prisoners at the highest security level in the Ohio State Penitentiary wanted to be returned to Death Row!

The fundamental reason offered by the Lucasville defendants for a hunger strike is that throughout their more than seventeen years of solitary confinement, they have been subjected to harsher conditions of confinement than the more than 150 other men sentenced to death in Ohio. The conditions under which the death-sentenced Lucasville prisoners are confined prevent them from ever being in the same space as another prisoner.
 
At the time of the 1993 uprising Ohio’s Death Row, as well as its execution chamber, was located at Lucasville. In the mid-1990s, the execution chamber remained at SOCF but death-sentenced prisoners were transferred to the Mansfield Correctional Institution (ManCI) north of Columbus. One reason for the transfer, it seems, is that correctional officers at SOCF came to recognize death-sentenced prisoners as human beings and found it distressing to be part of execution teams.

George Skatzes, of the original Lucasville 5, was transferred away from the others

The Lucasville capital defendants consider that from the beginning their conditions of confinement have been harsher than the circumstances of confinement for other death-sentenced prisoners. They have launched several previous hunger strikes. Skatzes wrote to the authorities about one such strike at ManCI: “All we want is . . . being placed on our proper ‘security’ level.” LaMar drafted the group’s demands during another hunger strike. One of their group needed immediate medical attention, LaMar wrote, and: “Surely he is entitled to the same attention that is accorded to everyone else.”

The frustration expressed in the Mansfield hunger strikes came to a climax on September 5, 1997. Prisoners in DR-4, the living area at ManCI in which the Five along with a much larger number of other death-sentenced prisoners were being held, occupied the “pod” for approximately six hours. The correctional officers on duty were overpowered and then released unharmed. There was some prisoner-on-prisoner violence against Wilford Berry, who had given up his appeals and volunteered for execution. When a SWAT team of officers assembled from all over Ohio stormed DR-4 late in the evening, the prisoners had returned to their cells. An investigating committee consisting wholly of prison administrators found that the SWAT team had used excessive violence. Jason Robb, apparently singled out because of his alleged role in the riot four years earlier, was beaten especially badly, had his skull fractured, and almost lost an eye. 

Unequal treatment continued when the death-sentenced Lucasville defendants were transferred to OSP in Youngstown. Judge Gwin found that OSP was constructed “in reaction to the April 1993 riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility at Lucasville.” Consistently with this conclusion, the five alleged leaders of the 1993 occupation were transferred to OSP within two weeks of its opening in May 1998. At OSP they are housed, not in the less restrictive conditions experienced by other death-sentenced prisoners, but in the high maximum conditions specific to the highest level of security in Ohio, so-called Level 5.

Relatives protest death row conditions at Ohio State Penitentiary WW photo Susan Schneur

At OSP

Professor Denis O’Hearn, director of graduate studies in sociology at the State University of New York (Binghamton), regularly visits LaMar and Robb. As described by Professor O’Hearn: 

— They are “in 23-hour lockup in a hermetically sealed environment where they have almost no contact with other living beings — human, animal, or plant.” When released from their cells for short periods of “recreation” they continue to be isolated from other prisoners.

During occasional visits, “a wall of bullet-proof glass separates the prisoner from the visitor. A few booths away, a condemned man from death row sits in a cubicle where a small hole is cut from the security glass between him and his visitors. He can hold his mother’s hand. With a little effort, despite the shackles he must wear on a visit, he can kiss a niece or a grandchild. He does not have to shout to hold a conversation.”

Report on 2oo8 protest against Ohio death row conditions at http://www.workers.org/2008/us/ohio_0131/

Hasan, LaMar, Robb, and Were experience “security reviews” annually but the outcome of these reviews is predetermined. The Lucasville defendants have been told by the authorities, in writing:

“You were admitted to OSP in May of 1998. We are of the opinion that your placement offense is so severe that you should remain at the OSP permanently or for many years regardless of your behavior while confined at the OSP” (emphasis added).

U. S. Supreme Court outlawed continuing death row conditions in Ohio

The emphasized words violate the explicit instruction of the Supreme Court of the United States. In its opinion specifically concerning conditions of confinement at OSP, the high court held that due process required that a prisoner might be placed at OSP only on the basis of “a short statement of reasons,” and that in subsequent classification review that statement “serves as a guide for future behavior.”

But Hasan, LaMar, Robb, and Were have been told that they will remain in the conditions of confinement decreed by State administrators regardless of their “future behavior,” that is, their behavior while at OSP.

Other prisoners sentenced to death for alleged crimes comparable to those for which Hasan, LaMar, Robb, and Were were found guilty have been moved off Level 5: to Death Row at OSP, to Level 4 at OSP, and out of OSP entirely to ManCI. One of the four Lucasville defendants asks, Must I have a mental breakdown in order to get off Level 5?

For Whom The Van Leaves
Another apparent reason that these men are desperately opting for the life-threatening practice of a hunger strike is the State of Ohio’s present practice of seeking to execute one man every month.
 

 

The 17th century British poet John Donne commented on the practice of ringing church bells when a person died. No one should ask for whom the bell tolls, the poet observed, because “it tolls for thee.”

In the Youngstown diocese, Catholic churches continue the practice of ringing their bells when an execution occurs. At OSP, prisoners know when the van is about to leave OSP to take a man to Lucasville to be killed. A person whom they have known as a friend, alive and well, is suddenly gone and dead. This works a psychological hardship on survivors. The remaining death-sentenced prisoners, some with a specific “date,” know that sooner or later the van will come for themselves.

Incredibly, Ohio was the only one of the fifty states to execute more prisoners in 2010 than in 2009. In 2010 Ohio executed more prisoners than any other state except Texas. Of the 46 executions in the entire country, Texas executed seventeen and Ohio eight, or 17 percent of the total number of executions nationwide.

And Besides, We’re Not Guilty
There is strong evidence that the Lucasville capital defendants have been singled out because of their supposed leadership roles in the 1993 rebellion, not because they killed anyone.
Two prisoners very badly injured by other prisoners during the riot were visited in the SOCF infirmary by officers of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Johnny Fryman had almost been killed by other prisoners at the beginning of the rebellion. He states under oath that in May 1993 he was taken to the SOCF infirmary and interviewed by two members of the Ohio State Highway Patrol:

“They made it clear that they wanted the leaders. They wanted to prosecute Hasan, George Skatzes, Lavelle, Jason Robb, and another Muslim whose name I don’t remember. They had not yet begun their investigation but they knew they wanted those leaders. I joked with them and said, ‘You basically don’t care what I say as long as it’s against these guys.’ They said, ‘Yeah, that’s it.'”

The State of Ohio still does not know who actually killed hostage officer Robert Vallandingham. In various court pleadings, the Special Prosecutor has offered different lists of the hands-on killers. None of the men sentenced to death appear on any of these lists.

Conclusion
Professor O’Hearn ends his comment by saying: “If deprivation of human contact is what led these men into lives where they committed horrific deeds, why do we punish them by continuing and even intensifying that deprivation? Why not give them the one thing that could have brought them from the brink in the first place: a little bit of loving, human contact? A clasp of a loving hand from time to time. The chance to show that they can be better men than they were. None of us can be hurt by this small mercy.”
 

 

Staughton Lynd
 
 

 

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

Readers can help by contacting Professor Jules Lobel, vice president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Professor Denis O’Hearn, director of graduate studies in sociology at the State University of New York, Binghamton. They are circulating a statement of support nationally and internationally.


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2 Responses to LUCASVILLE, OHIO PRISONERS BEGIN HUNGER STRIKE AGAINST TORTURE CONDITIONS IN NEW YEAR

  1. MARGARET MCCLOUD says:

    LUCASVILLE INMATE ON HUNGER-STRIKE FOR JUSTICE
    PLEASE OVER LOOK THE FACT THAT I’M A CONVICTED CRIMINAL.
    AS I TAKE A STAND FOR WORKERS RIGHTS,HUMAN RIGHTS,INMATE RIGHTS IN AN EXPRESSION OF SOLIDARITY WITH ALL OTHER PEOPLE STRUGGLES ACROSS THE WORLD.
    I BEGAN MY HUNGER STRIKE BY TURNING IN MY LUNCH TRAY ON
    5-19 11 THIS WAS DECIDED BECAUSE I’VE CONSTANTLY BEEN DENIED MEDICAL TREATMENT AFTER I WAS GIVEN OTHER INMATES MEDICATION AND SUBSEQUENTILY FELL AND BUSTED MY HEAD 3 TIMES, AFTER INITALLY BEING PLACED ON MEDICAL OBSERVATION FOR 4 HOURS. I WAS RELEASED, AS IT WAS STATED THAT THE EFFECTS OF THE MEDICATION SHOULD HAVE WORN OFF BY THAT TIME. HOWEVER DUE TO FALLING , I HAD HURT MY HEAD AND UPPER BACK I NEVER SAW A DOCTOR UNTIL AFTER I FELL AGAIN 3 DAYS LATER. I COULD NOT MOVE AND WAS TAKEN TO AN OUTSIDE HOSPITAL WHERE I WAS DENIED TREATMENT AGAIN RELEASED WITHIN A HOUR. AS I REGAINED THE ABILITY TO MOVE. HOWEVER PAIN WAS EXCRUEIATING I WAS PRESCRIBED MOTRIN WHICH I DID NOT RECEIVE UNTIL 5 DAYS LATER. I CONTINUED TO HAVE PAIN AND I STILL LOOSE CONSCIOUSNESS FOR NO APPARENT REASON AND FALLING STILL FROM TIME TO TIME. THREE WEEKS LATER I FELL TWICE IN ONE EVENING . I WAS TOO EASELY CLEARED THE FIRST TIME AND NOT SEEN THE SECOND TIME. I WAS ALSO MACED BY A CO WHO STATED “SENCE I HAVE TO DO PAPER WORK TAKE THIS “ MACING ME DIRECTLY IN THE FACE AS I STOOD THERE BLEEDING FROM MY HEAD AFTER FALLING. THAT’S WHAT OCCURRED SO RECENTLY WITH ME. THIS IS JUST A FEW OF THE MANY INCIDENTS OF THIS JAIL. MORE CORRUPTION: LYING, WITH-HOLDING MAIL, WITH-HOLDING FOOD, PHONE CALLS, ALSO HURTING INMATES. MANY WHICH ARE IN CUFFS AND/OR SHACKLED, WHO HAS BEEN MACED IN THE FACE RENDERING THEM UNABLE TO SEE WHILE THEY ARE BEING BEATEN.

    THERE IS A CURRENT UPROAR OVER INMATES BEING GIVEN SMALLER PORTIONS OF FOOD DUE TO BUDGET CUTS .
    HOWEVER I HAVE GONE FROM 170 LB DOWN TO 148 LB WHILE BEING HERE FOR 1 YEAR AND 4 MONTHS WE ARE CLOSE TO STARVING IN HERE.
    FOR LEGAL REASONS AND BEING AFRAID OF THEM READING MY LETTERS AND GETTING HARMED AGAIN MYSELF I WILL NOT ELABORATE ON INDIVIDUAL MATTERS. BUT AS I ENDURE THIS HUNGER STRIKE FOR AT LEAST THE NEXT 30-60 DAYS THIS INSTUTITION IS BEING INVESTIGATED BY CIIC THE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION INSPECTION COMMITTEE FOR SOME OF THE ABUSE STATED OFFINCESS.
    I HAVE RECENTLY BEEN READING ABOUT MANY STRUGGLES AROUND THE WORLD INCLUDING THOSE FOR WORKERS RIGHTS, STUDENTS RIGHTS, HUMAN RIGHTS FOR THE POOR ACROSS THE GLOBE. I HAVE DECIDED TO JOIN THE FIGHT TO TAKE A STAND, MY EXISTENCE IS MEAGER AS I PRESENTLY LIVE ON THREE TO NINE DOLLARS A MONTH WITH MIMINAL FAMILY FINANCIAL SUPPORT AS THEY ARE STRUGGLING AS WELL, SO ONCE I END THIS HUNGER STRIKE I WILL NEED ASSISTANCE AND FINANCIAL AND NET WORKING AS I SEEK TO FURTHER EDUCATE MYSELF ABOUT SOLIDARITY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND DIRECT ACTIONS AND STUDENT MOVEMENTS.
    I HAVE SEVERAL YEARS LEFT AND WOULD LOVE TO SPEND THEM BROADING MY SCOPE ON EACH OF THOSE MOVEMENTS AND FINDING MY PLACE WITH IN THEM . I WILL ALSO NEED ANTTORNEY TO TAKE ON MY CASE NEGLIGENCE OF THE INSTITUTION ALLOWING A CO NOT A NURSE TO GIVE ME SOMEONE ELSES MEDICATION CAUSING ME HEALTH PROBLEMS.
    PLEASE WRITE AND STAY INVOLVED AS IT IS VERY HARD FOR US TOO REACH OUT TO YOU ALL FOR SUPPORT AS IT IS YOU CAN EASILY GET THE NUMBER TO THE INSTITITION AND ASK TO SPEAK WITH THE DEPUTY OF SPECIAL SERVICES ABOUT MY HEALTH AND WELL BEING. AS OF MONDAY EVENING 5-23-11 I WILL HAVE MISSED 12 MEALS , BY THE FOLLOWING MONDAY 33 MEALS. THEN I SHOULD BE MOVED TO THE HOSPITAL.
    ALL CONCERNS ADDRESS
    QUENCY YOUNG # 568671
    SOCF PO BOX 45699
    LUCASVILLE, OHIO 45699
    YOU CAN SEND DONATIONS TO ME AS WELL INCLUDE MY NAME AND NUMBER AND A CLEAR SIGINATURE AND RETURN ADDRESS IF U DON’T WISH TO USE A RETURNED ADDRESS PLEASE GO TO JPAY.COM AND USE MY INMATE NAME AND NUMBER.
    THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT TAG MY SIGHT THERE WILL BE UPDATES CALL THE DWSS TO CHECK ON ME. ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE
    THANK YOU
    QUENCY YOUNG # 568671
    MY FACEBOOK ADDRESS IS : QUENCY YOUNG MY EMAIL ADDRESS IS quencyyoung@yhoo.com MOTHER WILL RESPOND TO ALL COMMENTS AND LETTERS.
    I AM MARGARET MCCLOUD A VERY CONCERNED MOTHER OF QUENCY YOUNG A INMATE IN LUCASVILLE CORRECTIONS .
    I AM AFRAID OF MY SON AND MANY MORE WONT MAKE IT HOME SAFE OR AT ALL THE JAIL IS CORRUPT AND VERY EVIL PEOPLE WORK THERE. THIS IS MY SON’S LETTER TO ALL THAT WILL LISTEN OR HELP HIM.
    THANK YOU FROM A CONCERNED LOVING MOTHER
    MARGARET MCCLOUD
    2280 HIGHLAND AVE.
    NORWOOD, OHIO 45212  

  2. Qari Al Quran A. Drake says:

    In The Name of Allah Most Gracious, Most Merciful. i can relate to these brothers perception of the state. I was a former prisoner myself and celled with some of those that was in the riotbut most of them had slow leaks in there mouth and lied on brothers only to better their siuation. It is the nature of humans. I would like to say that these brothers have paved a way and altered things in the penal system here in Ohio. Somebody have to do, just so happen by the will of Allah it was the rebels now facing death for fighting for their rights. Know that you brothers are facing death for something rather nothing and it was showed that race is an idealogy that can be overcome when you have a common enemy. But we all have a common enemy, THE SHAITAN (SATAN)!!!!

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