Monday April 30th. Today at least twenty five prisoners at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) began a hunger strike. They are demanding that the Warden meet and negotiate with them for improved conditions in Ohio’s super-max prison. These hunger strikers say they intend to continue to refuse food until their demands are met. Another, larger group of prisoners will show symbolic solidarity with the hunger strikers, and workers outside of prison by also refusing food on a one-day fast tomorrow, for May Day, the international day of worker solidarity and resistance.
Information about the hunger strike is limited at this time, because super-max prisoners have very constrained access to communication with the outside world. The hunger strikers are asking supporters of their cause to participate by calling Warden David Bobby (330 743-0700) and ODRC director Gary Mohr (614-752-1164). The hunger strikers are asking people to encourage Warden Bobby to meet with the prisoners and take their demands seriously.
This is the second hunger strike at OSP this year. The first occurred on Feb 20th-23rd in solidarity with the Occupy movement’s call for an “Occupy for Prisoners” day of action. That hunger strike ended with Warden Bobby, as well as officials from Central Office in Columbus, promising to increase recreation time to the court-mandated minimum as well as improve enrichment programming, food quality and commissary practices. At this time, it is unclear if that promise was kept and what relationship, if any, the current hunger strike has with February’s Occupy for Prisoners hunger strike.
Ohio State Penitentiary opened in 1998. It houses over 270 level 4 and 5 maximum security prisoners, and until recently also housed 116 of Ohio’s death row prisoners. OSP was built in response to the 1993 uprising at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.