A Welcome Prison Victory at Youngstown

by Denis O’Hearn

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/ohearn190111.html

Three death-sentenced men went on hunger strike in Ohio State Penitentiary on January 3 to win the same rights as others on death row in the state.  On Saturday January 15, the twelfth day of their protest, a crowd of supporters gathered in the parking lot by the tiny evangelical church at the entrance to the prison on the outskirts of Youngstown.  They ranged from the elderly and religious to human rights supporters to members of various left groups.  They were expecting to participate in the first of a series of events in coming weeks to support the men on their road to force-feeding, or even possible death.  Things did not turn out as expected.  For once, this was for the better.

The day’s events began when a small delegation made up of the hunger strikers’ relatives and friends (Keith Lamar’s Uncle Dwight, Siddique Hasan’s friend Brother Abdul, and Alice Lynd for Jason Robb), went up to the prison through the snow and ice to deliver an Open Letter addressed to OSP Warden David Bobby and Ohio’s state prison officials.  The letter, which supported the demands of the hunger strikers, was signed by more than 1,200 people including the famous (Noam Chomsky), human-rights-leaning legal experts from Ohio and around the world, prominent academics and writers, and ordinary retired teachers and religious ministers.  It was Saturday, so Warden Bobby was not there to meet the delegation, but he’d been aware of their coming and left someone at the front desk to take the letter.

Hopeful word of a settlement of the hunger strike had been circulating among a few friends and activists for two days.  It was definitively confirmed that morning when visitors to Jason Robb received a copy of a written agreement from Warden Bobby (see below) outlining a settlement that provided practically all of their demands, despite his insistence at the beginning of the strike that he would not give in to duress.

Read the rest here.

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