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Prison Sanitation Crisis at Ohio State Penitentiary - Update
By Robert Reed, Prisonersolidarity.org
Feb. 2, 2007

Dear Prisonersolidarity,

I would first like to thank you for your help and the media attention through your website and newsletter. It has helped to get a few of the minor conditions taken care of. We got the holes in the wall in the laundry room covered and a new water fountain on the west dorm.

The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution mandates that prison officials
maintain humane conditions of confinement and take reasonable measures to
guarantee the safety of inmates. I and other offenders here at OSP have been
trying to get these conditions fixed for over 17 months. I have followed and
exhausted the inmate grievance procedure to no avail. None of the main
problems have been fixed. The failure of OSP officials and the central office to take action and fix these conditions represents a deliberate indifference towards us offenders, and the conditions we face on a day-to-day basis.

On January 25, 2007, OSP officials ordered offenders to clean non-stop for
hours, for the direct and malicious purpose of covering up the inhumane
conditions of our restrooms and ventilation from the inspector. During the
inspection, the immediate staff tried to fool the inspector so that we offenders would have to continue suffering with these poor conditions. Because of the staff cover-up, we will have to continue enduring the broken toilets that leak profusely, the urinals that over flow on to our feet, and the lack of ventilation that results in fumes and condensation that are unbearable at times.

I saw the inspector come in around 10: 25 AM on 1-25-07. I tried to talk to
her in the restroom but the door was closed on me, so I caught up to her when she was inspecting the west dorm water fountain. I talked with her for about 7 minutes. I informed her that in planning for her arrival, offenders were told to remove plastic trash bags from three of the urinals and four of the toilets, and that the offenders had been cleaning for two days straight, and non-stop on that day. I told her that we needed her help and that they were covering up a lot. I would like to request that another inspection be done as soon as possible, of the unannounced kind. Please bring cameras and test kits. Also please take the time to speak with the offenders here. Please try all of the utilities so that you can see that they don't work and/or are broken so badly they don't work properly.

Here is another list of what needs to be inspected:

Toilets, urinals, ventilation, heat in the west dorm and blower; the roof leaks in at least 6 places, including living areas and common areas; another sink fell off the wall on 1-26-07 (it almost hit the inmate's foot); an inmate just fell through a broken chair and was taken to medical; chairs, tables, and east dorm fountain; have a medical inspector walk through to check for staph outbreaks; test for mold on the showers, ceilings, and walls.

It's cold on the west side once again, and there is a lot of condensation leaking down the walls into wall plugs, on the inner outside walls. I would like to add that we are offenders who have committed crimes and we are being punished by way of court-imposed sentence. No part of our sentence includes enduring inhumane conditions, in which we can catch diseases and transfer them back home to our families and society. We need your help to have someone do a full-blown inspection. Even on our grievance process here seems to be breached and corrupt at some points in time. I hope we can receive more help.

In God's speed, we thank you.

Respectfully,
Robert Reed

R. Reed #424-893
Ohio State Penitentiary
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd.
Youngstown OH 44505

You may contact Mr. Reed directly by writing to him at the address listed
above. The following link offers tips for writing to prisoners:
http://prisonersolidarity.org/TipsForWritingPrisoners.htm

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An Opportunity for Activism

Would you like to write a letter to the Ohio Department of Health?
Here is the contact information:

* Bureau of Environmental Health
Ohio Department of Health
246 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
E-mail: BEH@odh.ohio.gov
Telephone: (614) 466-1390

* J. Nick Baird, M.D.
Director, Ohio Department of Health
Ohio Department of Health
246 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
E-mail: Director@odh.ohio.gov

Ohio Justice & Policy Center
617 Vine Street
Suite 1309
Cincinnati, OH 45202-2416
E-mail: contact@ohiojpc.org
Telephone: (513) 421-1108

Marc C. Houk, Warden
Ohio State Penitentiary
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road
Youngstown, Ohio 44505
(330) 743-0700

* Adam Jackson
Correctional Institutional Inspection Committee
Riffe Center, 8th Floor
77 South Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-466-6649
Fax: 614-466-6929

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