Author: Justice for Lucasville Prisoners

New flyer (zine) out for Greg Curry

This is a zine, made by Lucasville Amnesty (Ben Turk) for Greg Curry. It can be downloaded here. There are unfortunately no print copies left we are told.

Front of the new zine for Greg “Repression Breeds Resistance”

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ACLU Case: We filed this suit because the ODRC is violating the First Amendment rights of the prisoners and of the press

This is about the ACLU Media-access case, in which Greg Curry also is a plaintiff, from the ACLU Ohio website:

21 years after the Lucasville prison uprising, the media is still waiting for face-to-face interviews with the condemned prisoners.

For more than two decades, Siddique Hasan, Jason Robb, George Skatzes, Keith LaMar and Greg Curry have claimed they are innocent of the crimes attributed to them during the 1993 prison uprising at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF).

Among other things, these five men accuse the state of coercing false testimony from other SOCF prisoners in order to convict them. They have spent years in solitary confinement, soliciting media attention in an attempt to convince the public—and ultimately the court system—that they do not belong where they are.

In response, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) has completely banned face-to-face media contact with these men, arguing that they are too much of a security risk to be allowed to tell their stories in person.

In late 2013, the ACLU of Ohio filed a lawsuit challenging this ban. The suit was filed on behalf of Hasan, Robb, Skatzes, LaMar and Curry, as well as one teacher and four reporters, including Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges. 

We filed this suit because the ODRC is violating the First Amendment rights of the prisoners and of the press. It’s not hard to see that their actions have very little to do with security and everything to do with silencing an uncomfortable conversation about the Lucasville uprising.

For proof, consider that many other death row inmates in Ohio have been granted face-to-face access to the media. They include spree killer John Fautenberry, neo-Nazi murderer Frank Spisak, and convicted arsonist Kenneth Richey, who has since been released from death row.

In all, Ohio prison officials have approved nearly two dozen media interviews with other death row inmates while denying each and every request for face-to-face interviews with the five Lucasville prisoners. This ban is a special form of extended vengeance, reserved only for them.

These prisoners are complicated characters, and the Lucasville uprising is a complex story.

Hiding these complexities behind a wall of censorship will not make them go away.
The Basics

21 years ago, on Easter Sunday 1993, more than 400 inmates at an overcrowded prison in Lucasville, Ohio staged an 11-day prison uprising. In the ensuing violence, nine inmates and one corrections officer lost their lives.

The Basics – read more here.

(clockwise from top left) Jason Robb, Siddique Hasan, Greg Curry and Keith LaMar are all incarcerated at Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Ohio. Not pictured is George Skatzes, who is incarnated at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution (photo courtesy of Siddique Hasan and Greg Curry).

Artist Laurel Herbold’s imagined rendering of an actual legal meeting between prisoner Jason Robb, former ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman, prisoner Greg Curry, ACLU Volunteer Attorneys Alice and Staughton Lynd, prisoner Siddique Hasan, ACLU of Ohio Managing Attorney Freda Levenson and prisoner Keith LaMar.

From Greg to Denver Anarchist Black Cross – August 2013

Dear Comrades,


Greetings from behind enemy lines, I hope as all of you attend this year’s conference, you will meet like-minded comrades that will help to strengthen your resolve for true justice.

Invariably the question of how to best serve those of us trapped behind prison walls turn to prisoner input, from my personal experience and in my humble opinion developing a personal report with us in order to help you feel our pulse is the way to proceed.

How many of you know that one of the prisoners you’ve rallied on behalf of has lost a parent or some other loved one this year, or has a teenage child rebelling at home? Would you invite that teen to do something constructive in your realm of influence? Also how many of you know how close to starvation a prison system keeps the occupants under its jurisdiction and control? Sure, you’re told our birthdays just like American doctors are told our symptoms as they go about their clinically detached analysis – that is, nothing personal to it while they’re off to their next patient. As we all know American health care is nothing to brag or get excited about (smile). Thus, any detached method of activism would seem counter-productive to a sustained effort at freeing all political prisoners. I’d like for the various organizations represented today to be sure that they’re getting the most out of their resources, for example, pooling their printing and postage resources whenever possible.

And to the question of what direction I’d like to see you moving in, perhaps it’s time to reconnect with law students, radicalizing and urging them to file lawsuits over every legitimate prison issue, e.g. the draconian treatment of SHU prisoners in California, false detentions, eligible prisoners being randomly denied paroles, religious discriminations, etc.

Until we touch base again, for the prisoners it’s…

Freedom First,

Greg Curry
213-159
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd
Youngstown, Ohio 44505

Demand an End to the Abuses in Guantanamo Bay, the CA SHU’s and in Solitary Confinement units in OH and elsewhere!

06/14/2013
 
Salute, please be encouraged to demand an end to the abuses at Guantanamo Bay or those at the SHU units in California or in Ohio or anywhere in the world. For the progressives with standards too high for the lowly or prisoner or voiceless child laborer please apply your standard to the family men & women working low wage jobs, economically forced to abuse prisoners, to deny us the basic Human Dignity of a Human, these low wage workers have to choose forced feeding folks who demand freedom, cell extractions that break bones and even worse.

A low wage worker must play along with denial of Human Dignity or ignore the plea of an innocent man who demands freedom and nothing less. Worse even for a low wage worker is having to load a prisoner into a van on a one way trip to the death house. The worker mentally has to be crying for help from progressives when their job title calls for them to load a prisoner up and ship them to their death…

Mentally these workers carry this baggage home to their dinner table, to their child’s baseball game. I can only imagine that if this worker knew there was a revolution out there that could help them out of a low wage job…

Whatever your standard, join this call for help!

[Sent in to Revolution, May 2013]

Greg Curry #213-159
OSP
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road,
Youngstown, OH 44505

Hunger Strike at OSP ends: Greg and Hasan send a press release out

 May 6th, 2013
For Immediate Release to the Public From: Siddique Abdullah Hasan and Gregory Curry:

Lucasville Media Access Hunger Strike Ends

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO– Today, at 3:15 p.m., Greg Curry and I, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, decided to end our almost month-long hunger strike. The strike commenced on April 11, the 20th anniversary of the Lucasville prison uprising. The sole purpose of our strike was to vigorously challenge the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) continuously denying us to have direct access to the media- that is: on-camera interviews with the media.

While both death-row and non-death row prisoners in Ohio are granted on-camera access to the media, those who have been reailroaded and convicted of crimes stemming from the Lucasville Uprising have continuously been denied equal protection under the law. 

And though ODRC policy permits its prisoners to meet with the media to discuss their criminal cases, this policy has not been applicable to those of of convicted of riot related offenses. In fact, in 2003, the then-prison chief, Reginald Wilkinson, made it perfectly clear to Kevin Mayhood a staff reporter at the Columbus Dispatch that: “no inmates convicted of riot crimes will be permitted to speak with [them].” This blanket and collective denial is contrary to ODRC’s own state-wide Media Policy, which Mr. Wilkinson’s successors have been unconstitutionally enforcing his vindictive directive. 

We want to thank all our supporters, as well as some reporters in the media, who have been agressively assisting us in challenging this unconstitutional media blockade.

We also want to thank the various organizations who have expressed interest in this matter– that is, the flagrant violation of our first amendment guarantees which protect freedom of speech and redress from government excesses.

Finally we want to thank Warden David Bobby for negotiating with us in good faith and for being the liaison between us and his hard-line superiors at Central Office.

Because of these factors, we decided to end our hunger strike and allow this crucial matter to be litigated through the court. God willing, we will be granted a resounding legal victory against the prisoncrats who wish to silence us in a deliberate ongoing attempt to prevent us from revealing the truth about our criminal convictions, convictions which are a serious affront and travesty of justice. Until then, I remain…

In the trenches,

Siddique Abdullah Hasan.
####

Greg Curry and others from 1993 Lucasville prison uprising on Hunger Strike as of April 11th

04/12/2013
 
Greg Curry, a prisoner at Ohio State Penitentiary, doing a life sentence on false and wrongful grounds following the Lucasville prison uprising in 1993, told Ohio Prison Watch in a letter received today that he would be part of this hunger strike too:  

This comes from ABC / AP:

By Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press, COLUMBUS, Ohio April 10, 2013

Three of five Ohio inmates sentenced to death for a historic prison riot plan a hunger strike starting on the uprising’s 20th anniversary Thursday to protest the state’s refusal to allow them sit-down media interviews on their cases.

The state has had two decades to tell its side of the story and the inmates known as the Lucasville Five should have their chance, Siddique Abdullah Hasan said in an exclusive telephone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday.

“We have been suffering very torturous conditions for two decades,” said Hasan, formerly Carlos Sanders. “We have never been given the opportunity completely to speak about our cases, to speak to the media — because the media has an enormous amount of power. They can get our message out to the court of public opinion.” 

 
Twelve staff members were taken hostage on April 11, 1993, Easter Sunday, when inmates overtook the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. Hasan was convicted for helping plan the murder of Corrections Officer Robert Vallandingham, among 10 who died during the 11-day uprising, the longest deadly prison riot in U.S. history. Hasan denies he was involved in planning or carrying out the killing.

Hasan, Keith LaMar and Jason Robb, all sentenced to death after the uprising, will take their last meals Wednesday evening ahead of their protest at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Hasan said. Also participating will be Gregory Curry, a participant in the rebellion sentenced to life in prison.

James Were, another of the Lucasville Five, is diabetic and will not take part. The fifth man sentenced to death after the riot, George Skatzes, is at a different prison in Chillicothe.

Read the rest here: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/ap-ohio-prison-riot-convicts-plan-hunger-strike-18924356#.UWW18JOporU

Conference: Lucasville prison uprising re-examined: 20 years on (April 2013)

03/27/2013
 
Three Day Conference Re-Examines 1993 Prison Uprising

What:     Re-Examining Lucasville Conference

When:    Friday, April 19, 7 to 9 pm

             Saturday April 20, 9 am to 10 pm   
         
            Sunday April 21, 9 am to 12 noon
Where:  Columbus State Community College, OHIO
             Location on Campus to Be Determined

Contact: Ben Turk              RedBirdPrisonAbolition@gmail.com
             614 704 4699
Web:    Re-ExaminingLucasville.org

Cost:     Suggested donation, $10-50- no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Three Day Conference Re-Examines 1993 Prison Uprising

Twenty years after one of the longest prison uprisings in US history, legal experts, historians and activists will gather to expose injustices resulting in death sentences for five men and lengthy prison terms for many others. The Re-Examining Lucasville Conference will explore the context in which the uprising occurred and present a comprehensive examination of what happened during the Uprising from April 11-21, 1993 at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, Ohio and the legal proceedings that followed. During this eleven day uprising, ten people lost their lives before the prisoners were able to negotiate a peaceful surrender to state authorities. The State of Ohio promptly violated key parts of that agreement and targetted certain prisoners for prosecution.

The event will begin Friday night with the screening of a short documentary film by Derrick Jones, including footage from the uprising and interviews with activists and government officials. This includes an interview with then state prosecutor Daniel Hogan, who admits he does not know and thinks they will never know who actually killed hostage Officer Vallandingham, a crime for which he and other prosecutors sent four men to death row.

Attendees will then hear from some of those men and from others who have been held in solitary confinement since the uprising. Jason Robb, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Bomani Shakur (also known as Keith Lamar) and Greg Curry will speak from the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) on Friday night.

On Saturday, the conference will dig into a close examination of the uprising. Men who were incarcerated at SOCF in April of 1993 will share their stories. Prominent Ohio lawyers and other experts will unfold the layers of injustice the State of Ohio engaged in to secure convictions following the uprising. Advocates and experts from across the US will connect the Lucasville Uprising with nationwide prison issues. 

– Attorney Mark Donatelli, who represented defendants after the New Mexico prison uprising in 1980, will discuss  the horrendous conditions that preceded the disturbance and contributed to successful plea negotiations.
– Attorney Niki Schwartz, who represented prisoners in concluding a peaceful settlement of the Lucasville uprising, will speak about the prosecution’s failure to abide by some of its most important provisions.
– Attorney Rick Kerger, who represented Siddique Abdullah Hasan in state court until taken off the case by the trial court judge, will speak about the struggle to provide unbiased and effective representation for  individual defendants.

– Attorney Phyllis Crocker, dean at the Cleveland Marshall Law School, chairperson of the 2007 Ohio Death Penalty Assessment Team of the American Bar Association, and currently serving on the task force appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to examine the death penalty, will describe the changing scene with regard to the death penalty in Ohio.

On Sunday, attendees will participate in an interactive strategy session and will be invited to take action, joining the struggle for the Lucasville Uprising Prisoners. Conference organizers believe that a critical examination of the Lucasville Uprising will expose deeply unjust and inhumane practices that the Ohio prison system continues to engage in today. The Lucasville Uprising Prisoners continue to fight these injustices, and they hope the conference will broaden support, not only for their struggle, but for the struggles of all Ohioans who are targeted by this system.

Media representatives who would like to interview conference organizers or prisoners should contact Ben Turk at 614-704-4699 or insurgent.ben@gmail.com. More information about the uprising, including radio interviews with some of the prisoners can be found online at LucasvilleAmnesty.org.
See full schedule below for details.

RE-EXAMINING LUCASVILLE SCHEDULE  Friday, April 19, 7 to 9:30 p.m., Chairperson, Bob Fitrakis  Welcome Derrick Jones, documentary film, The Great Incarcerator: Part 2, The Shadow of Lucasville Lucasville Uprising Prisoners speak.

Saturday, April 20, 9 to noon, Chairperson, Alice Lynd 9:00 – 9:55 a.m., two skits drawn from transcripts: The Making of a Snitch,” Highway Patrol interview with man who became an informant; “The Death-Qualified Jury,” exclusion of potential jurors 10:00 – 10:55 a.m., Survivors of Lucasville, Conditions at Lucasville before the Uprising 11:00 a.m. – noon, Struggle in the Courts Attorney Vicki Werneke, Capital Habeas Unit, Federal Public Defender, on complicity and obstacles in habeas representation Staughton Lynd, attorney and author of Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising Saturday, April 20, noon to 1 p.m., Lunch, to be provided.

Saturday, April 20, 1 to 3 p.m., Layers of Injustice, Chairperson, Staughton Lynd Attorney Mark Donatelli, represented defendants after New Mexico prison uprising Attorney Niki Schwartz, represented prisoners in Lucasville negotiations Attorney Rick Kerger, represented Hasan in state court until taken off case by trial court judge Dean Phyllis Crocker, Cleveland Marshall Law School, chaired ABA panel on death penalty in Ohio, member of task force appointed by Ohio Supreme Court to examine death penalty.

Saturday, April 20, 3 to 5 p.m., breakout sessions Bonnie Kerness and Ojore Lutalo, art work and video “Sneak Peek” on isolation as a political tool in New Jersey prison Central Ohio Prisoner Advocates (COPA) and Redbird Prison Abolition, current conditions in Ohio prisons Others to be announced Saturday, April 20, 7 to 9:30 p.m. Derrick Jones, documentary film, The Great Incarcerator:  Part 1, Dark Little Secrets Entertainment Open Mic Poetry and Music.

Sunday, April 21, 9 a.m. to 12 noon, Building Support, Chairperson, Ben Turk Noelle Hanrahan, Prison Radio:  Mumia Abu Jamal support campaign Wide-ranging discussion about strategy and possible future actions                                         #   #   #

Deals or No Deals?

Hello everyone, I’d like to take this opportunity to send warm greetings to all of you there. I truly recognize that any number of more pressing issues requires your attention, yet you made a choice to attend this important conference.

Whether you’re a skeptic or already convinced that injustice exists and plays more than the “harmless era” standard applied by courts across the country, those of us seeking your help and support hope that we are providing more than an emotional plea for you to operate with, for if emotion alone would bring justice, every crying eye would be justly rewarded (right?).

All our documents are official from the state courts and in some cases our issue is that these courts know the exculpatory documents would bring into question the riot convictions and the deals given to the inmate conspirators that are commonly called snitches, for the State.

Those of us convicted have consistently asked that if the system requires our life, including how our absence from our parents, children, wives & births & deaths has affected their lives, whether “life” is by a State-scheduled death or death as it comes to an isolated substandard existence, that all available evidence should be examined, I hope you agree?!

Curious to me is, why is it that those of us convicted are more confident in the totality of the evidence than is a judicial system with  far more money, power & resources?

Without being too technical, I’d like to refer everyone to a case: Beckett v. Haviland, 6th Circuit 2003. [see attached below] This case law rules, and is a continuation of court rulings back to the 1970s, the following; briefly the case says:

“When the State’s star witness is given a deal to testify and that deal isn’t disclosed, the only remedy is a new trial.”

When you compare that case law to what my trial transcript reflects on the State’s star witness (Lou Jones) and how members of my jury were concerned about deals possibly being given out as incentive to lie, I think all of you hearing my voice will share that same concern.

Let me be really clear: the State swore during my trial to the judge and jury that no deals were given to anyone. Some of these prisoners were accused and some admit involvement in riot-related crimes, yet none were charged and both prosecutors, knowing that the “no deals”-testimony was false, allowed it to be heard, even swearing themselves that no deals were made, so that the coveted convictions were obtained.

The official records show that these same two prosecutors on Direct Appeal admitted: yes they had given deals. – check here.

Some skeptics have  said to me “Well you have caught other cases since the riot.” I’ve been on supermax-status since the riot and have been faced with relentless oppression and retaliation at the hands of some aggressive prison guards and leaderless administrative supervision all the while being held against my will. It is amazing that I’ve not killed someone for my freedom or for my just dues in court.

Let me point to the fact that before 1993 inside prison I had not been charged with any violent behavior, since 1993 plenty, what changed? What draws such a response from a peaceful person I ask you?!

For those of you who believe in our cause and us, like my dear brah Kunta Kenyatta, I say keep the faith, keep sharing our info with people and taking advantage of current technologies (Ben & Annabelle).

To the activist community in general, you must know it’s always darkest before there is Light, continue to seek the Light of Justice.  At very least comrades, our effort should make it harder for an unjust system to reuse these tactics on anyone else ever again!

Thank you,

Freedom First,

Greg Curry
From Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP)
Gregcurry.org