Friday, September 19, 2008

Lucasville Uprising Leader Victim of Prison Abuse

By Sharon Danann Published in Worker's World Sep 19, 2008

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) have gone out of their way to harass Abdul-Muhaymin Nüruddïn (aka James Bell), a leader of the 1993 Lucasville prison uprising.

In Sept. 2007, shortly after the ODRC’s unwillingness to pay $100,000 for Nüruddïn’s kidney transplant, two guards threatened his life, cursed at him, cuffed and shackled him too tight, and made gestures as if to hang him or cut his throat.

He filed complaints which were superficially investigated, giving the guards ample opportunity to deny such behavior. Nüruddïn wanted to appeal these findings, but he spent the following month in the hospital near death when the dialysis graft became infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). After his release from the hospital, he was told there was no extension on filing an appeal due to hospitalization.

In Jan. 2008, the ODRC forcibly cut his beard after threatening to “put him in the hole” if he didn’t cut it, a significant violation of his religious rights. The BOP refused to acknowledge Nüruddïn’s legally adopted Islamic name.

Even before the uprising, prisoners in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, Ohio, held Nüruddïn in great respect for the legal assistance he provided. He worked in the prison law library and prepared appeals, civil law suits, and writs of habeas corpus.

During the first three days of the prison siege, April 11-13, 1993, Nüruddïn was one of the prisoners negotiating with prison officials. The authorities dubbed Nüruddïn the “right hand man” of Sunni Muslim Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan, who was considered by prosecutors to be one of the leaders of the uprising and subsequently received the death penalty.

So it was not surprising that in Nüruddïn’s October 1994 trial, he was convicted by an all-white jury of felonious assault against a guard. He was already serving a 20-year to life sentence for a murder he maintains he did not commit.

At his most recent parole hearing in April 2007, after calling him “an active participant in the SOCF riot,” the Ohio Parole Board set Nüruddïn’s next parole hearing for January 2014. Without a vigorous campaign to free this wrongfully convicted man, the parole board’s decision could be equivalent to a death sentence given Nüruddïn’s medical problems.

Even if Nüruddïn cannot be present for the crucial remaining appeals of the Lucasville uprising prisoners, he has already signed an affidavit that exonerates both Hasan and Namir Abdul Mateen (aka James Were) from charges connecting them with the death of a guard. Namir also received a death sentence in his sham trial.

Despite the intense harassment directed at him, Nüruddïn has been an active participant in campaigns initiated by a coalition of prisoner advocacy organizations, including the Cleveland Lucasville 5 Defense Committee. The death-sentenced Lucasville uprising prisoners are known as the Lucasville 5.

In a recent campaign for regular family visits for death row prisoners, Nüruddïn stated boldly in a letter to the warden of the prison where four of the Lucasville 5 are held, “Since you [Warden Houk] may unconstitutionally resort to murdering innocent men, the Lucasville 5, on your death row, at least allow them the right to contact visits with their families and other loved ones before you murder them.”

Nüruddïn also wrote to Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland as part of the International Unity Day of Action on Feb. 4. The governor forwarded the letter to ODRC Director Terry Collins, who responded that all prisoners who were involved in the “riot” can expect to serve their entire sentences.

Send support letters to Abdul-Muhaymin Nüruddïn, aka James H. Bell Jr., #179-394, Correctional Reception Center, Orient, OH 43146-0300. Call 614-466-3555, fax 614-466-9354 or e-mail Strickland through the link found at www.governor.ohio.gov to demand freedom for Nüruddïn (James Bell) and other prisoners railroaded by the injustice system as well as to demand an immediate end to the harassment of these courageous men.

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