OPEN LETTER OPPOSING THE CONTINUED ISOLATION OF FOUR MEN ON HUNGER We the undersigned call for an end to isolated These men have been kept in isolation continuously Throughout their more than seventeen years of solitary The four have suffered “Level 5” top security Hasan, LaMar, Robb, and Were experience annual “You were admitted to OSP in May of 1998. We are of the opinion that your placement The lack of a meaningful review violates the due process These men are Other prisoners sentenced to death for alleged crimes We demand that the Ohio prison authorities remove
STRIKE AT OHIO STATE PENITENTIARY
“supermax” imprisonment in Ohio State Penitentiary. We are especially concerned
about the cases of Siddique Abdullah Hasan (Carlos Sanders); Bomani Shakur
(Keith LaMar); Jason Robb; and Namir Abdul Mateen (James Were), who are on
hunger strike in protest against their conditions of confinement. We understand
that they have taken this course of action out of total frustration with their
hopeless situation at OSP.
since they were sentenced to death for their alleged roles in the 11-day
rebellion at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, Ohio
in April 1993. Hasan and Robb were two of the three men who negotiated a
peaceful surrender in that rebellion and their actions undoubtedly saved lives.
confinement, these four men have been subjected to harsher conditions than the
more than 150 other men sentenced to death in Ohio. The conditions under which they are confined
prevent them from ever being in the same space as another prisoner. Judge James
Gwin of federal district court noted with amazement during the trial of the
prisoners’ class action, Austin v. Wilkinson, that death-sentenced
prisoners at the highest security level in the Ohio State Penitentiary wanted
to be returned to Death Row!
isolation since OSP was opened in 1998. This essentially means that they live
in 23-hour lockup in a hermetically sealed environment where they have almost
no contact with other living beings – human, animal, or plant. When released
from their cells for short periods of “recreation” they continue to be isolated
from others. During occasional visits, a wall of bullet-proof glass separates
them from their visitors. They remain shackled, despite the fact that they
could do no harm in these secure spaces. A few booths away, condemned men from
death row sit in cubicles where a small hole is cut from the security glass between
them and their visitors. They can hold their mother's hand. With a little effort, they can kiss a niece
or a grandchild. They do not have to shout to hold a conversation.
“security reviews” but their outcome is predetermined. The prison authorities have told them, in
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.”
clause of the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution. Keeping men in supermax
isolation for long periods clearly violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition of
cruel and unusual punishment. Moreover, the emphasized words above directly
violate the explicit instruction of the Supreme Court of the United States in Wilkinson
being held in solitary confinement permanently, until they are put to death by
Ohio or their convictions reversed. This not simply long-term solitary
confinement, but in essence permanent solitary confinement.
comparable to or worse than those for which Hasan, LaMar, Robb, and Were were
found guilty have been moved off of Level 5:
to Death Row, to Level 4 at OSP, and out of OSP entirely. One of the four Lucasville defendants asks,
“Must I have a mental breakdown in order to get off Level 5?”
these four men from Level 5 “supermax” security and that they end the cruel
practice of long-term isolated confinement.
OPEN LETTER OPPOSING THE CONTINUED ISOLATION OF FOUR MEN ON HUNGER
We the undersigned call for an end to isolated
These men have been kept in isolation continuously
Throughout their more than seventeen years of solitary
The four have suffered “Level 5” top security
Hasan, LaMar, Robb, and Were experience annual
“You were admitted to OSP in May of 1998. We are of the opinion that your placement
The lack of a meaningful review violates the due process
These men are
Other prisoners sentenced to death for alleged crimes
We demand that the Ohio prison authorities remove
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