From: Immigrant Support Network
Sun Jan 2, 2011
Dear family, friends and supporters of the Lucasville uprising prisoners,
Mark your calendars to come to OSP in Youngstown on Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr.'s birthday, Saturday, Jan.15, for a rally and press
conference. Gather at 12:45, rally and press conference at
1:00. Park in the parking lot of the small church next to the
entrance gate to OSP (see address underlined below). We will have
reports from visits with the hunger strikers, messages from the
prisoners, solidarity statements, and more. If enough of us gather
with enough signs and banners, we can be seen from the prisoners'
windows. So come on down! Bring your friends, your neighbors, your
co-workers, your fellow students, and your whole family. To arrange
for car pooling, email
By now some of you may have seen commentary about the upcoming hunger
strike at Ohio State Penitentiary - much of it reprints of my last
email to you! - as well as many important contributions by attorney
Staughton Lynd and professor Denis O'Hearn, both of whom are tireless
advocates on behalf of this group of prisoners. The internet age is
a beautiful thing so I want first of all for you to know about the
facebook page set up by dedicated activists working with Professor
O'Hearn. Hopefully I have provided the link correctly below:
Become a friend of the facebook site and urge all your facebook
friends to do the same. As we get updates during the hunger strike,
they will be posted on the facebook page and tweeted by twitter. So
get involved and spread the word.
You recall the Bomani Shakur is to be the first to start the hunger
strike tomorrow, and I'm sure our thoughts and best wishes are with
him. I have attached his beautiful statement explaining why he is
going on the hunger strike: in essence, the conditions under which
they have been held amount to torture and enough is enough!
For those of you who wish to send him cards, letters and other
messages of support, be sure to include his "convicted as" name:
Keith LaMar, and his prisoner number: 317-117. The address for all
four prisoners is: Ohio State Penitentiary, 878 Coitsville-Hubbard
Rd., Youngstown, OH 44505-4635. You can also send the prisoners
email through the JPay-Ohio system once you set up an account. It
will cost you 25-30 cents per page of email, depending how many
virtual "stamps" you purchase at once.
Siddique Abdullah Hasan will join the hunger strike second, probably
after three days. His "convicted as" name is Carlos Sanders and his
prisoner number is R130-559. Next will be Jason Robb whose prisoner
number is 308-919. And finally, Namir Abdul Mateen will join, to the
extent that his health will allow. His "convicted as" name is James
Were and his prisoner number is 173-245. We wish them all victory
and good health.
Messages of solidarity and support are of course welcome. In
addition, we should be deluging certain officials with our support
for the prisoners' demands, which are, very simply, that they be
treated like other Death Row prisoners and be afforded the same tiny
privileges to the other prisoners held in OSP who are also sentenced
to die, such as physical contact with loved ones. Fair and just
annual reviews that took into account these prisoners' 12 years of
good behavior would have resulted in recommendations of removal from
the highly restrictive "level 5" solitary confinement they have been
subjected to for no reason other than vindictive need for punishment
- for crimes they did not commit, folks, don't forget that! This is
inhumane, this is unconstitutional, this is illegal, this is
deplorable, this is an international disgrace - and it must
stop. Please contact the following people to speak your mind:
OSP Warden David Bobby, 330-743-0700 or fax 330-743-0841 or email
ODRC Director Ernie Moore,614-752-1159 (couldn't find fax) or email
People from Cleveland, please contact state Senator Shirley Smith,
who is on the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee,
614-466-4857 or email
The facebook page will direct you to an electronic petition. Other
initiative are in the works. If you have ideas, suggestions and
information, please post them. There are people working on this
cause literally around the world. But we need to build the strength
of support for the very modest demands of the hunger strikers and
ensure a swift victory. So get the word out to all interested
organizations and individuals. Now is the time for not only a
nationwide prisoner support movement, but an international prisoner
support movement. Let's make it happen!
for the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network
OPEN LETTER OPPOSING THE CONTINUED ISOLATION OF FOUR MEN ON HUNGER STRIKE AT OHIO STATE PENITENTIARY
We the undersigned call for an end to isolated “supermax” imprisonment in Ohio State Penitentiary. We are especially concerned about the cases of Siddique Abdullah Hasan (Carlos Sanders); Bomani Shakur (Keith LaMar); Jason Robb; and Namir Abdul Mateen (James Were), who are on hunger strike in protest against their conditions of confinement. We understand that they have taken this course of action out of total frustration with their hopeless situation at OSP.
These men have been kept in isolation continuously since they were sentenced to death for their alleged roles in the 11-day rebellion at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, Ohio in April 1993. Hasan and Robb were two of the three men who negotiated a peaceful surrender in that rebellion and their actions undoubtedly saved lives.
Throughout their more than seventeen years of solitary confinement, these four men have been subjected to harsher conditions than the more than 150 other men sentenced to death in Ohio. The conditions under which they are confined prevent them from ever being in the same space as another prisoner. 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 four have suffered “Level 5” top security isolation since OSP was opened in 1998. This essentially means that they live 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 others. During occasional visits, a wall of bullet-proof glass separates them from their visitors. They remain shackled, despite the fact that they could do no harm in these secure spaces. A few booths away, condemned men from death row sit in cubicles where a small hole is cut from the security glass between them and their visitors. They can hold their mother's hand. With a little effort, they can kiss a niece or a grandchild. They do not have to shout to hold a conversation.
Hasan, LaMar, Robb, and Were experience annual “security reviews” but their outcome is predetermined. The prison authorities have told them, 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.”
The lack of a meaningful review violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution. Keeping men in supermax isolation for long periods clearly violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Moreover, the emphasized words above directly violate the explicit instruction of the Supreme Court of the United States in Wilkinson v. Austin.
These men are being held in solitary confinement permanently, until they are put to death by Ohio or their convictions reversed. This not simply long-term solitary confinement, but in essence permanent solitary confinement.
Other prisoners sentenced to death for alleged crimes comparable to or worse than those for which Hasan, LaMar, Robb, and Were were found guilty have been moved off of Level 5: to Death Row, to Level 4 at OSP, and out of OSP entirely. One of the four Lucasville defendants asks, “Must I have a mental breakdown in order to get off Level 5?”
We demand that the Ohio prison authorities remove these four men from Level 5 “supermax” security and that they end the cruel practice of long-term isolated confinement.
Sing the Petition here