Ohio State Penitientiary 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.

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.

From Lucasville Amnesty

On Monday March 16th, over 30 supermax prisoners at Ohio State Penitentiary 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:

Two recent policy changes at OSP are the main issues, though prisoners have many other specific grievances. The biggest issue, effecting the most prisoners is the withdrawal of congregate recreation. All but the cadre and long timer prisoners at OSP are no longer allowed to go out on the range together for their one hour a day recreation out of their cells. This policy change reduces human contact between prisoners, isolating and dehumanizing them further, and denying them opportunities to demonstrate that they are not security threats, a key component of the security step-down process they need to go through to get out of solitary confinement. It also creates a logistical problem, if only one prisoner at a time is allowed to rec, there is not enough time in a week for each of the over 450 prisoners to get their legally required five hours of rec time per week. This policy change violates court decisions that are supposed to bind OSP to a minimum standard of humane treatment.

The second change, OSP has decided to deny programming to prisoners at level 5B. This directly effects a few dozen prisoners, who are at the highest security level in the Ohio system. Depriving these prisoners of access to programming demonstrates the ODRC’s commitment to cruelty and punishment, rather than rehabilitation and counseling for their captives. Like the recreation restriction, it slows the process by which 5B prisoners can step down to lower security levels, aquiring more privileges. It is also illegal. Some of the denied programming includes religious programming. Any prisoner placed on level 5B will be there for at least a year. It is a violation of the first amendment right to freedom of religion to deny anyone the ability to practice their religion for over a year, and a violation of the fourteenth amendment equal protection under the law to exclude these prisoners from opportunities afforded to other prisoners without just cause.

There are many other issues at OSP, everything from unsafe and slippery conditions in the showers that have caused multiple injuries, to restricted access to hardcover books in violation of US Supreme Court decision Turner v Safely. The Warden at OSP is not taking the prisoners’ demands seriously and appears to not have consulted ODRC legal services before instituting these illegal and unconstitutional policy changes. That is why we’re requesting supporters to call Trevor Clark and Austin Stout in the ODRC legal services department.

Contact infor for Correctional Institution Inspection Committee Members:

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