RE-EXAMINING LUCASVILLE: Essay 3
What Prisoners Hoped Would Happen
The Strategy of the Authorities
The basic principle in these situations . . . is to buy time, to maintain the dialogue between the authorities and the hostage taker and to buy time. . . . [T]he basic principle is to maintain a dialogue, to buy time, because the more time that goes on the greater the chances for a peaceful resolution to the situation.
Why Tessa Unwin’s Statement Mattered
It’s a standard threat. It’s nothing new, that if we don’t have something in three and a half hours, we’re going to kill a hostage.
It’s not a new thing. They’ve been threatening things like this from the beginning. It just happened to be something they hung out . . . .
We’re talking to a lot of different people. Like we’ve said before, you know, some of them will get on and make a threat, some of them will get off and make a concession. That’s just how it goes. State v. Robb, Tr. at 1045-1046.
The circus-like atmosphere surrounding media coverage of this event took on tragic dimensions . . . when an off-hand comment by a Department press spokesperson was aired to the inmates. . . . [R]eporters began to interrogate the Departmental spokesperson regarding inmate death threats against the hostages which had been displayed on sheets hung from L-block windows that day. Instead of providing the standard “no comment” response, the spokesperson dismissed the threats by stating that they were merely “part of the language of negotiations.”
As anyone familiar with the process and language of negotiations would know, this kind of public discounting of the inmate threats practically guaranteed a hostage death!
. . . When an official DR&C spokesperson publicly discounted the media threats as bluffing, the inmates were almost forced to kill or maim a hostage to maintain or regain their perceived bargaining strength.