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Keynote Address by Attorney Staughton Lynd:
Lucasville was Ohio's 9/11

"The Lucasville events matter because they did so much to create the mindset with which Ohioans have come to regard maximum security prisoners as 'the worst of the worst.' Lucasville was Ohio's 9/11."

New prison advocacy group formed:
Loved Ones of Prisoners (LOOP)
Theresa Lyons, Janice Conway and Ruth Group, members of the newly formed Loved Ones of Prisoners, shared their feelings and stories about what it's like to have a son or grandson sentenced to death. Inmates condemned to death were moved to Youngstown earlier this year; prisoners are still sent to Lucasville for the actual execution.

Call for action:
Silent vigils near Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown
Loved Ones of Prisoners announced that two silent vigils will be from 2 to 3:30 p.m. July 16 and 23 near the Ohio State Penitentiary on behalf of inmates scheduled to be put to death.

News coverage of the
Youngstown Prison Forum
June 10, 2006

Beeghly Hall, Youngstown State University


Forum raises prison issues

One California prison focuses on learning empathy and group therapy.
By Sean Barron, The Youngstown Vindicator

YOUNGSTOWN - For many people, the most practical solution to dealing with crime and those who commit violent acts is fairly straightforward: Lock up the offenders for as long as possible and, in some cases, throw away the key or pull the switch. But do those methods alone, along with a burgeoning growth in the number of maximum security prisons in the nation, make society safer and inmates who are freed less likely to commit new crimes?

Those were among the numerous issues pertaining to crime and punishment addressed Saturday at the Youngstown Prison Forum. The seven-hour conference in Youngstown State University's Beeghly Hall took a critical look at social roles of prisons in Ohio, as well as mental health and human rights issues
for inmates, and alternatives to prison.

The event, co-sponsored by the Youngstown Workers' Solidarity Club and YSU's Dr. James Dale Ethics Center and Department of English, featured various workshops and a panel of women who have family members on Death Row. The conference also had presentations on readjusting to society after being incarcerated and information relating to the 11 days of rioting in 1993 at the maximum-security facility in Lucasville.

Comparison

Kicking off the sessions was a 50-minute film that pointed out the contrasts between how inmates at the Ohio State Penitentiary on state Route 616 are handled compared with about 60 violent offenders in the San Francisco County Jail.

The 2002 film followed operations at the Youngstown Supermax facility, which
opened in 1998 in Coitsville Township, and showed, for example, the procedures for strip-searching new inmates and how most of the approximately 465 prisoners are locked in their cells for 23 hours a day with few privileges. Interspersed with those portions was footage showing an experimental program at the California lockup in which the emphasis for changing violent behavior was on learning empathy and participating in group therapy instead of on punishment.

Group formed

Theresa Lyons, Janice Conway and Ruth Group, members of the newly formed Loved Ones of Prisoners, shared their feelings and stories about what it's like to have a son or grandson sentenced to death. Inmates condemned to death were moved to Youngstown earlier this year; prisoners are still sent to Lucasville for the actual execution.

Lyons, whose grandson Odraye Jones was sentenced to die for the killing of an Ashtabula police officer in 1998, contended he was convicted on flimsy evidence. A 12-year-old girl said she saw Jones commit the crime, yet his fingerprints were never found on the gun, Lyons said.

"I'm a victim because my [grandson's] on Death Row for something he didn't do. I've been suffering for eight years," the Youngstown woman said.

Conway and Group shared similar stories pertaining to their sons, whom they say were wrongly convicted of aggravated murder.
Carol Parcell of Akron said she's come across new evidence that could exonerate her son, Brett Hartmann, who she says was convicted of aggravated murder, kidnapping and other charges on faulty evidence before being given the death penalty about eight years ago. Parcell is a member of Families that Matter and Ohioans to Stop Executions, both anti-death-penalty groups.

Panel

The panel was made up of Dr. Kathryn Burns of the Cuyahoga County Community Mental Health Board, Dr. Ayham Haddad, a former OSP physician, and Atty. Jeff Gamso, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.

Gamso told the audience of a client he represents who was sentenced to death twice before having his sentenced commuted to life in prison. The man suffered a lifetime of sexual and other abuse, mitigating circumstances that the courts twice failed to consider before the 4-3 Ohio Supreme Court ruling that reduced the man's sentence.

"We have a system that doesn't work," Gamso said of the imposition of capital punishment, adding that many on death row in Ohio are mentally ill.

Kunta Kenyatta, a member of Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants, a national organization set up to reduce crime through criminal justice reform, discussed his experiences upon being released after serving 16 years, three at OSP, before being freed in November 2002. Kenyatta said re-entry into society was initially difficult, but he has gotten a job and owns a home.

Inmates' rights

Laurie Hoover, a member of CURE-Ohio, said her group fights for prison reforms and inmates' rights. Life for many prisoners, especially over the past several years, is tougher because fewer education and rehabilitation programs are offered as more prisons focus strictly on punishment and making higher profits, she said.

Each inmate's case should be looked at individually, and they are more likely to be repeat offenders if they aren't "given tools to know what options they have to lead to change," Hoover explained.

Wrapping up the program was a presentation by Atty. Staughton Lynd in which
he talked about the April 1993 prison riots at Lucasville that resulted in the death of a corrections officer. Five prisoners were handed the death penalty for the killing of officer Robert Vallandingham, but at least two of them were unfairly sentenced based on false testimony, Lynd contended.

Group announced that two silent vigils will be from 2 to 3:30 p.m. July 16 and 23 near the Ohio State Penitentiary on behalf of inmates scheduled to be
put to death.


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Vindicator Discussion Group
Here's a Vindicator online discussion in response to the article that was published on June 11. If you'd like to join in on the discussion, the link is:

http://forums.vindy.com/read.php?10,13322

Forum raises prison issues

Posted by: Vindy.com (IP Logged)
Date: June 12, 2006 07:14PM

Re: Forum raises prison issues
Posted by: Anonymous (IP Logged)
Date: June 12, 2006 07:14PM

To Whom it may concern,
Everybody "who is so bent on helping prisoners" should really take a look at the guards who work there in all the overcrowed prisons and what they need for help. Every day working there with these so called I don't belong here I didn't do it prisoners and government cut backs. I think none of them get payed enough or enough respect for what they do.

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Re: Forum raises prison issues
Posted by: Anonymous (IP Logged)
Date: June 12, 2006 07:15PM

if you think they don't get paid enough then they should go back to school and get real educations

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Re: Forum raises prison issues
Posted by: Carrol Cox (IP Logged)
Date: June 13, 2006 04:36PM

Probably retail drug dealers don't get paid enough for the risks they take. Nor do Walmart clerks get paid well enough. In fact there are 10s of millions of people in the u.s. who don't get paid anywheres near enough for whatever they are doing.

But this is not usually viewed as an excuse to go beat people up who are making one's job difficult.

Backing up a bit. Capitalism requires a professional repressive force. There is no way that the pay for that force can be sufficient for the outrageous activities it is supposed to perform in the conduct of its repressive policies. The solution to this conundurm is to offer the personnel of that repressive force (police, prison guards, etc.) a more or less free hand to operate in their own immediate interests as they subjectively perceive those interests. Hence enforcing ordinary rules of human decency on this repressive force would seriously endanger the morale of that force. For example, it has been clear from the beginning that the central motive for the judges, prosecuting attorneys, governors, etc. who dealt with the Mumia case was not his guilt or innocence but the necessity for maintaining the morale of the thugs who constitute the Philadelphia Police Department.

Carrol Cox

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Prison topic at YSU forum
By Amanda Smith-Teutsch, The Warren Tribune Chronicle

June 11, 2006

YOUNGSTOWN - With an estimated 1,000 new inmates added to the 2.2 million incarcerated people in the U.S. each week, the city of Youngstown, with its existing penal institutions, is moving toward a prison-based economy, according to the organizers of the Youngstown Prison Forum.

The Dr. James Dale Ethics Center at Youngstown State University, YSU's Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Department of English and the Youngstown Workers' Solidarity Club sponsored the forum Saturday at Beeghly Hall on campus.

A series of films and workshops lasting all day ended with a discussion by Staughton Lynd, a local lawyer who wrote a book on the Lucasville prison uprising of 1993.

"We presented issues regarding human rights and health care in Ohio prisons ... and how we prepare prisoners for re-entry into society" said Dr. Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez of YSU. "What we've found is that we're dismally failing in preparing them to return to society."

Lynd discussed his book, "Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising" at the forum.

"Lucasville was Ohio's 9-11," said Lynd.

In 1993, prisoners took control of the maximum-security prison in Lucasville. The 11-day standoff started with a dispute between the warden and Muslim prisoners and ended with a settlement, but only after nine prisoners and one hostage guard had been killed. In the months that followed, leaders of the uprising were tried and sentenced to death; in his book, Lynd argues there is ample evidence of their innocence.

"It altered the mindset of Ohioans, who have come to regard inmates in the SuperMax as the worst of the worst, as animals ... and deserving of death."

Kunta Kenyatta, who was imprisoned at Lucasville during the riots and was released after completing his sentence, also spoke at the forum in a panel discussions, "Getting In, Getting Out and Alternatives to Prison."

"It's a bleak situation, when you are being put to death for a situation you had nothing to do with it, or had no control over," Kenyatta said.

ateutsch@tribune-chronicle.com

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Prison topic at YSU forum
The Warren Tribune Chronicle

June 9, 2006
A public forum on PRISON ISSUES will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the McKay Auditorium in Beeghly Center on the Youngstown State University campus. The newly formed group, Loved Ones of Prisoners, will address issues related to Ohio’s death row. There will also be panel discussions on incarceration and alternatives to prison.