Ohio prisoners on hunger strike for media access

Four prisoners in Ohio’s supermax prison began refusing food on April 11. They are demanding that media representatives visiting Ohio State Penitentiary be permitted to hold on-camera interviews. On the 20th anniversary of an uprising in Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, the prisoners want to bring out the truth about what happened April 11 through 21 in 1993.

The prisoners on hunger strike are Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Jason Robb and Bomani Shakur (convicted as Keith LaMar), all of whom received death sentences for crimes allegedly committed during the uprising, and Greg Curry, who received a life sentence.

Two Associated Press articles on the prison rebellion have been picked up nationwide. The “riot” was one of the longest in U.S. history. One guard and nine prisoners lost their lives before a peaceful surrender could be negotiated. The signed agreement included provisions against retaliation.

Ignoring this arrangement, the state of Ohio targeted certain prisoners for prosecution. It focused on prisoner representatives involved in the negotiations, such as Hasan and Robb, and on prisoners who refused to falsely testify to help the state build cases, such as Shakur and Curry.

A conference named “Re-Examining the Lucasville Uprising” will take place at Columbus State Community College from April 19 through 21. Activists, legal experts and historians plan to sift through the evidence that has emerged and plan further strategies for securing the release of the wrongfully convicted prisoners.

A documentary by filmmaker Derrick Jones includes footage of the uprising and an interview with Daniel Hogan, then the state prosecutor, in which he admits that he does not know who actually killed Officer Robert Vallandingham, although four men were sent to death row for this crime.

Readers are encouraged to call OSP Warden David Bobby at 330-743-0700 to insist that he allow media access to the Lucasville Uprising prisoners and to protest their indefinite solitary confinement. Twenty years of solitary is far too long.

More information on the hunger strike and the conference is available at ­re-examininglucasville.org.

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