Monday, March 30, 2015

OSP Hunger Strike Enters Third Week

The range at OSP
Ten prisoners at OSP have been on hunger strike since Monday March 16th. Supporters have been calling the prison and the legal services department at ODRC central office with no discernable effect.
The Warden and OSP staff refuse to take the hunger striking prisoners seriously. Unit manager Charmaine Bracy and Major Hurst have both said that range rec will not be returned at all and that 5B prisoners will have access to religious programming through their cell doors. See below for what that means and why it is unacceptable.

Trevor Clark in legal services either ignores calls or re-directs callers in meaningless circles. It seems there is no one in legal services at the ODRC is taking responsiblity for making sure OSP does not abuse its captives' basic constitutional rights.

So, we're going to their boss, and then to his bosses.

Gary Mohr is the director of the ODRC. Please call him and tell him that the Warden at OSP is refusing to take the ten hunger strikers seriously. Demand that Mohr reverse this Warden's illegal policy changes. Tell him that it is not okay for him to turn a blind eye when his employees pursue collective punishment by putting through illegal and unconstitutional policies because of a few incidents with one or two prisoners.

Gary Mohr- 614-752-1150.
Write letters:
Gary Mohr, ODRC Director, 770 West Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43222

Email:
drc.publicinfo@odrc.state.oh.us


Gary Mohr is the top of the ODRC hierachy, but the ODRC is supposed to be accountable to the people of Ohio. The mechanism for that accoutnability is the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC). Please join other supporters in filing complaints on their website http://www.ciic.state.oh.us/complaint-form
You can also contact these elected officials (especially if you live in their district) and ask them to investigate the recent policy failures at OSP.

Sandra Williams (D) Senate District 21 (614) 466-4857
Cliff Hite, Vice Chair (R) Senate District 1 (614) 466-8150
Edna Brown (D) Senate District 11 (614) 466-5204
John Eklund (R) Senate District 18 (614) 644-7718
Click the names to send emails.
Mailing address:
Senate Building
1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor
Columbus, Ohio43215
Paul Zeltwanger (R) House District 54 (614) 644-6027
Nicholas J. Celebrezze (D) House District 15 (614) 466-3485
Bob D. Hackett (R) House District 74 (614) 466-1470
Michelle Lepore-Hagan (D) House District 58 (614) 466-9435
Click the names to send emails.
Mailing Address:
Vern Riffe Center
77 South High Street 13th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111

Religious programming through a cell door means that a clergy person or spiritual leader will speak with the prisoner through the closed cell door on the range for less than 5 minutes. The doors at OSP are solid steel. They are thick, and the range is a loud echoing concrete room with a dozen of these doors looking out on it. Prisoners behind each door attempt to converse with each other by shouting to be heard. It is a very loud place with no privacy.

Imagine being a catholic giving confession at the top of your lungs through a steel door while other prisoners carry on shouted conversations around you. Imagine trying to receive any kind of religious instruction in that environment. It is absurd for OSP staff to pretend that is a suitable replacement for the one hour long sessions in a seperate space that they are depriving these prisoners of.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

OSP Hunger Strike Enters Second Week

These cages are similar to the ones OSP used to
give level 5B prisoners access to programming.
OSP claims they do not provide enough security. 
On Monday March 16th, over 30 supermax prisoners at Ohio State Penitientiary went on hunger strike. Warden Jay Forshey and OSP staff are refusing to meet their demands or negotiate with them. Some of the hunger strikers have not even been met and consulted with regarding their demands. Eleven prisoners remain on hunger strike and are committed to staying through to the end, if necessary.

SUPPORT ACTION:

1. Please call ODRC Legal Services department and request that they speak with the hunger striking prisoners and address the illegal policy changes at OSP. Call ODRC Legal Services- 614-752-1765 ask for Trevor Clark, Austin Stout or their boss, Stephen Gray.
Write letters: Legal Services, 770 West Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43222
Email: Trevor.Clark@odrc.state.oh.us Austin.Stout@odrc.state.oh.us and Stephen.Gray@odrc.state.oh.us

2. Please call Warden Jay Forshey at OSP and demand that he change these policies and meet with all the hunger striking prisoners to address their other issues. Ohio State Penitentiary- 330-743-0700 ext 2006.
Write letters: Warden Forshay, OSP, 878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd, Youngstown, OH 44505
Email: Jay.Forshey@odrc.state.oh.us and Laura.Gardner@odrc.state.oh.us
You can also contact the politicians on the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee and ask them to look into the issue. http://www.ciic.state.oh.us/complaint-form See below for direct contact information...
More details on the issues:

Friday, March 20, 2015

Columbus Free Press on the Recent OSP Hunger Strike.

From The Columbus Free Press.

During a press conference on Monday, March 16, Siddique Hasan announced  that a hunger strike was underway at the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP). Hasan had called in to the press conference from a phone within OSP, also known as the “Supermax” prison, in Youngstown, Ohio. He told the reporters he had missed his last three meals.
  Hasan is one of the four “Lucasville Five” inmates who are on death row at OSP as a result of their presence at the Lucasville prison uprising in 1993. His fellow Lucasville Five members, Bomani Shakur (Keith Lamar) and Jason Robb are also participating in the hunger strike.
  Hasan outlined the reason for the current hunger strike. The root of the problem began when a new inmate at OSP stabbed a guard in the neck and punched one in the face. Instead of dealing with that one individual, OSP prison officials applied collective punishment to everyone in OSP under Level Five security.
  Hasan denounced the “collective punishment” being dispensed at the Supermax prison: “There's been no access to computer rooms on Level 5B in three weeks.” He also explained that prison officials are also denying the rights of new inmates to participate in religious services for one year. “Religion is a constitutional right,” Hasan pointed out.

Update on Hungerstrike for Access to Programming and Recreation at OSP

This is an update on this hunger strike.

According to both Hasan and Warden Forshey, there are over 30 people officially on hunger strike at OSP (meaning they have skipped 9 meals, and submitted to having their cells shook down and getting medical check ups).

Officer Charmainge Bracy (sp?) met with all the hunger striking prisoners. The Warden and other officials also came through the cell blocks talking with prisoners. Thus far none of the demands have been met and no changes made.

Chief Legal Council for the ODRC, Trevor Clark came to the prison and said this was the first he's heard of the issues the hunger striking prisoners are raising, which (if true) means OSP thinks they can change policies regarding access to recreation and religious programming with no concern about the legality of these changes.

Hasan is especially concerned with the programming issue. It is only the 5B prisoners who are blocked from this programming, so he has access to it, but he's concerned about the 50 or so prisoners who are denied that access.

The first issue is religious programming. It is a clear violation of first amendment freedom of religion to block these prisoners from access to religious programming and instruction. Hasan is encouraging supporters to reach out to their religious communities, whether Christian, Muslim, or otherwise, and let people know that OSP is illegally denying their brothers access to their chosen faiths.

Monday, March 16, 2015

OSP Prisoners on Hunger Strike.


According to Siddique Abdullah Hasan, many prisoners at OSP started a hunger strike today protesting recent policy changes that illegally restrict prisoner access to recreation and programming, including constitutionally protected religious programming.

The prisoners are demanding rec and programming be returned, and these other issues addressed. Please call the following officials and demand that access to recreation and programming be returned, and that the warden meet with and negotiate any other demands the hunger striking prisoners have.

Call Warden Jay Forshey at 330-743-0700You can also email the warden's assistant: Laura.Gardner@odrc.state.oh.us
Write a letter to: Warden Forshey, Ohio State Penitentiary, 878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road, Youngstown, Ohio 44505
Fax: (330) 743-0841

Call regional director (and former OSP Warden) Todd Ishee 330-797-6398
Address: Todd Ishee, Northeast Regional Office, Voinovich Building, 242 West Federal Street, Suite #402, Youngstown, OH  44503
Fax: 330-744-3512
Email: Todd.Ishee@odrc.state.oh.us

Call ODRC Director Gary Mohr at central office (614) 387-0588
Address: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, 770 West Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43222
Email: DRC.publicinfo@odrc.state.oh.us

With recent changes, only 15 or so of the over 400 prisoners at OSP are allowed congregate recreation on the range anymore and the prison is severely restricting outdoor rec. There are not enough outdoor rec cages get prisoners their legally required 5 hours a week if prisoners are only allowed out one at a time. Staff said the elevators going five of the semi-underground rec cages were broken, so access to rec is even more restricted.

We don't know how many prisoners are participating in the hunger strike, but Hasan suspects many have joined in.

5B (the highest security level, about 57 prisoners) have also been denied access to programming, including constitutionally protected religious programming. There are a number of smaller greivances relating to the administration rolling back safety conditions and privileges the prisoners have won through lawsuits, complaints and earlier protests. To hear the full description of the prisoner's greivances, listen to the below phone call with Siddique Abdullah Hasan.



You can listen to the full audio of the phone call with Hasan here.

Below is a partial transcript. If you'd like to help out by picking up where I left off, please email Insurgent.Ben@gmail.com (to make sure only one person is working on the same thing at a time) and i'll get it posted. Thank you.

There's So Much Life Here: Keith LaMar Looks Back on Over 20 Years in Solitary Confinement

Written by Jack Schuler for Truth-Out.org

There's So Much Life Here: A Death Row Prisoner Looks Back on Over 20 Years in Solitary Confinement
Saturday, 07 March 2015 00:00By Jack Shuler, Truthout | Report
Prison fence(Image: Prison fence via Shutterstock)
A prisoner-painted landscape mural in the style of Bob Ross dominates the visitors' room at the Ohio State Penitentiary: a dense forest of evergreens in the foreground with a mountain lake reflecting the rising sun and a tall white-capped mountain beyond. The focal point of the painting is the neon yellow sun radiating light in the darkness. In a place with no natural light to speak of, there's this homage to the romantic beauty of nature. Visitors want there to be hope here just as they want this painted paradise to be real.