We started this website in November of 2011, the year in which four of the “Lucasville 5” as they became known, won important improvements in the prison conditions they were forced to live in since 1993.
In January of 2011, 3 men went on a hunger strike in Ohio State Penitentiary, the supermax, in which they were housed since its opening in 1998. The hunger strike was aimed at getting more privileges for them and a fourth prisoner who could not participate due to medical conditions.
These men were on death row, yet they were treated more strictly than other death row prisoners. Why? Because they were accused, charged and convicted of crimes pertaining to a riot, a disturbance, an uprising in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, in 1993. It is becoming more and more evident that Ohio’s Department of Corrections wanted a “supermax” prison.
They needed a reason to build one. A riot would help show that this kindof prison for the “worst of the worst” was needed.
Following conditions in the SOCF facility that grew worse and worse, with strict rules and ridiculous demands, a riot unfolded at Easter 1993. The riot was the longest lasting in the history of the United States. Nine prisoners and one guard were killed. By whom? Why?
In the aftermath, pressure was put onto prisoners by prosecutors, asking if they wanted to take a plea in exchange for testimony against other prisoners. In the months that followed the riot, certain prisoners became state informers, others were charged.
Those charged with capital offenses went to trial because they did not want to take a plea, knowing they were innocent.
The trials took place in counties where juries were not the peer juries of the accused, far away from where the prisoners came from.
Those who did not want to take a deal, who did not want to snitch on others, were convicted. Among these convictions were five death penalties: the “Lucasville 5”:
– George Skatzes
– Jason Robb
– Siddique Abdullah Hasan (Carlos Sanders)
– Nameer Abdul Mateen (James Were)
– Keith LaMar (Bomani Shakur)
Many others, like for instance Greg Curry, were charged and convicted on false charges too, and received lengthy sentences.
Some of the (forced to become) informers have been released, some of them have even returned to prison.
During the disturbance, representatives of several gangs came together to try and dissolve the situation. The prisoner solidarity and the notion that they were in this together, as one “convict class” or “convict race” (terms found written on the walls after the disturbance ended), speak for themselves.
That the prosecution and the state tried to put prisoners up against each other, is an injustice and a moral wrong for which those whose integrity was (and remains) intact, have to pay the price. This should not be tolerated. Also, the victims and their families have right to justice. This right is taken by condemning those who were not responsible for the deaths of those who fell, and letting those who were responsible, off the hook.
We are against the death penalty in any case. We do not propagate revenge. There is a lot of information that remains hidden.
Apparently, evidence was hidden by prosecution, so that the defense was disadvantaged. Politics play a large role in the conviction of these men, and we want real justice, not politics. We want the truth to come out, and therefore we gather links to information that is available or that is being made available online, so that
people not only in Ohio, but in the United States and in other parts of the world can also learn about the injustice being done in Ohio.
When we started this site, it was not clear if there was a core group supporting the Lucasville prisoners or not. We wanted to have a place to gather information and to educate people, so we started this site and kept it hidden from view for a longtime, because we wanted a consensus about this work. Then in the spring of 2012, another site was suddenly started, which was the Lucasvilleamnesty.org site. We decided that we then could open our site also, and since we are based in Europe, we show that the Lucasville prisoners have an international following.
We have also made websites for individual prisoners who are unwillingly involved in this situation. The men involved are in solidarity and keep working together through “racial” divides. As friends, volunteers, we have visited some of them twice up to now.
We are on Twitter too: @Lucasvillejusti
Please follow us there too, thank you!
What you can do:
If you want to help, you can start by corresponding with the men here and show your solidarity and support. Please do not forget (as this is a prison rule) to put your return address on the left top of your envelope, thank you!