Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Death Row inmates end hunger strike after state meets demands

'Semi-contact' visits among concessions to Lucasville riot leaders

Monday, January 17, 2011
By Alan Johnson
The Columbus Dispatch

A hunger strike by the three Lucasville riot leaders has ended with state
prison officials conceding to nearly all of the strikers' demands.

A memo dated Friday from Warden David Bobby of the Ohio State Penitentiary
at Youngstown outlined six policy changes being made for inmates under the
prison's "administrative maximum security" designation, the most
restricted section of Death Row, which houses about 120 prisoners.

Inmates will be allowed "semi-contact" visits with family members,
additional recreation time, access to computer-based legal research, phone
privileges up to one hour per day and the opportunity to purchase more
items from the commissary, including food and clothing.

Most of the changes were effective immediately, according to Bobby's memo.
The visitation change will take effect Feb 1.

The three inmates - Siddique Abdullah Hasan, known as Carlos Sanders at
the time of the 1993 Lucasville riot; Bomani Shakur, formerly known as
Keith Lamar; and Jason Robb, all of whom are serving death sentences for
their part in the riot - began a liquid-only hunger strike Jan. 3.

The inmates complained that they were being singled out for unfair
restrictions compared with others on Death Row because of their actions
during the April 1993 riot. In audio messages distributed via the
Internet, Hasan complained they had no outdoor recreation or contact
visits with family members, can't buy winter-weight clothing and lack
access to LexisNexis, a legal and news Internet search engine.

The riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville cost
10 lives, including Corrections Officer Robert Vallandingham. Sanders was
considered the ringleader of the rioters.

Attorneys Staughton and Alice Lynd, who have advocated for the Lucasville
inmates, obtained a copy of the memo. They said the state's capitulation
was a surprise.

"I think they (the inmates) regard it as a victory," Alice Lynd told The

"This is a big deal for them to be able to touch a loved one after 18 years."

"Semi-contact" visits typically mean the visitor is separated from the
inmate by a plate of glass that has a small gap so they can touch or hold


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