Monday, January 3, three inmates on death row at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) started a hunger strike to protest the conditions of their confinement. Keith LaMar, Siddique Abdullah Hasan (Carlos Sanders), and Jason Robb received death sentences following the rebellion in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, OH. They have been held at the highest security level in OSP, “Level 5”, since they were transferred to OSP in 1998.
Another death-sentenced prisoner who will join the others in refusing meals at a time of his choosing is Namir Abdul Mateen (James Were). He was also involved in the 1993 Lucasville uprising.
The prisoners are asking simply that they be treated like other death row prisoners, rather than be subjected to the extremely restrictive solitary confinement which nothing in their last 12 years of behavior can justify. Rather than evaluate their behavior on its merits, the prisoners claim that they are singled out punitively by prison authorities in their annual reviews by refusing to give credit for good behavior and maintaining them year after year on Level 5. One such review stated, “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.”
LaMar, also known by his chosen name Bomani Hondo Shakur, has issued a statement to explain his motivation for the hunger strike. It states in part:
. . . we have undergone penalty on top of penalty, kept from fully participating in our appeals, from touching our friends and families, denied adequate medical treatment, and so many other things that are too numerous to name. In a word, we have been tortured. And, yes, I’m aware that the word “tortured” is a strong word to use, but I know of no other word that more adequately describes what we have been through. We have been put through hell.
Click here for his complete statement.
To support the hunger strikers, the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network will take part in a press conference and rally next to the entrance to OSP at 1:00 PM on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Saturday, January 15. The location is 878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road and the event is co-sponsored by the Youngstown-based prisoner-advocacy organization, LOOP (Loved Ones Of Prisoners). The Cleveland chapter of the New Black Panther Party will also be participating.
Support is growing for the hunger strike, with messages of support coming in from across the country and around the world.
The Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network is coordinating transportation from Cleveland to OSP in Youngstown for the Jan. 15 event.
For more information, contact Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network: 216-571-2518, <firstname.lastname@example.org>.