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Last week, men incarcerated at Ohio’s supermax prison brought a month-long hunger strike to a close. Between 30 and 40 men had refused all meals since March 16 to protest new restrictions placed on already severely limited recreation and programming for those in solitary confinement. On April 15, all but one of the men agreed to suspend the hunger strike after a meeting with the warden at which the prison agreed to lifting some, but not all, of the new restrictions.
The following information is based on numerous letters from prisoners in the High Security Unit at Menard Correctional Center in Illinois written in December 2013. These prisoners expect to go on hunger strike on Jan. 15, 2014, due to their placement and retention in severe isolation, under inhumane living conditions, without notice, reasons or hearing. This will be a peaceful protest. Retaliation can be expected.
The Re-Examining the Lucasville Uprising Conference, held April 19-21 in Columbus, Ohio, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Lucasville Uprising, was a resounding success by all reports. “A strong and vibrant coalition has come together to advocate for innocence of those convicted in the aftermath of the uprising,” reports Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio, one of the organizers.
One big reason the story of Lucasville has to be told again and again is that not only did this tragic, desperate uprising lead to 10 deaths, but five men are still on death row and many more have been given lengthy sentences who declare their innocence. Here is the story in short of Greg Curry, one of the prisoners who received a life sentence even though he had nothing to do with the uprising or the murders.
Twenty years ago, there was a prison uprising in Lucasville. A correctional officer and several prisoners who collaborated with the prison administration were murdered. Imam Saddique Hasan and other prisoners who acted as spokespeople for the prisoners were eventually charged with the murders and have been held on Ohio’s death row ever since.
The increase in hunger strikes in state prisons throughout the United States, inspired by the courageous examples of Ohio and California prisoners, show we don’t fear death or persecution, but minimizing losses is a part of wise strategy. We struggle to win. Unnecessarily losing some of our best minds to indeterminate isolation won’t help this purpose.
Although on a very small scale (which by no means diminishes the deed), we, the people, have wrought a revolution – “a sudden and momentous change in a situation” – and accomplished in 12 days what the powers that be have repeatedly told us would never happen.
The rally at Ohio State Penitentiary was attended by a large crowd, including many members of the families of the hunger strikers, despite the freezing weather. And there's wonderful news: All three have resumed eating because they achieved a victory. The prison authorities have virtually met their demands. The strikers are in high spirits, and now they can turn their attention to their death sentences. Before, they were fighting about their conditions of confinement, but now they begin the fight for their lives.
Three prisoners sentenced to death for their leadership of the 1993 Lucasville rebellion, now at Ohio State Penitentiary, have been on hunger strike since Jan. 3. An Open Letter that will be presented to prison officials at tomorrow's rally has collected more than 500 signatures from Ohio, many other states and all across the globe, among them many prominent citizens. Buses are bringing supporters from far and wide to the rally.
Four death-sentenced prisoners, wrongfully convicted of crimes following the 1993 prison rebellion in Lucasville, Ohio, started a hunger strike Jan. 3. They say they would rather die, if they must, on their own terms, rather than on a gurney by lethal injection. They want to strike a blow against confinement conditions so inhumane that they amount to torture.
Four prisoners unjustly sentenced to death for the 1993 Lucasville, Ohio, prison uprising began a hunger strike on Monday, Jan. 3, to demand that they be placed on Death Row rather than be held in solitary confinement – and to initiate a campaign that will hopefully lead to executive clemency. Here, the first of the prisoners to begin the strike speaks out.
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 lockdown for nearly 18 years. They were sentenced to death for their alleged roles in the 11-day Lucasville rebellion in April 1993. They are innocent! They were wrongfully convicted! They are political prisoners.