Prison hunger strike over media access ends

John Stegeman, Sports Editor

May 10, 2013


Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An inmate sentenced to death for his role in a historic Ohio prison riot and a fellow prisoner ended a nearly one-month hunger strike this week without winning the direct media access they sought.

Through a spokesman, Siddique Abdullah Hasan said he and Gregory Curry ended a protest Monday that began April 11, on the 20th anniversary of the deadly Lucasville uprising. Hasan was sentenced to death, Curry to life for their roles in the riot.

The two were the last of several original protest participants to resume taking meals at the Ohio State Penitentiary, the Ohio Department of Rehabiltation and Correction said. Three of the so-called Lucasville Five sentenced to death for their roles in the 11-day uprising took part, the two others for a shorter period.

The 1993 rebellion was the longest deadly prison riot in U.S. history, leaving 10 dead, including prison guard Robert Vallandingham.

Hasan, formerly Carlos Sanders, said in a statement that the strike succeeded in drawing attention to his constitutional concerns over being denied on-camera interviews.

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

Hasan said Warden David Bobby bargained in good faith but top officials at the prisons department could not be swayed.

Department spokeswoman JoEllen Smith denied recent AP requests for sit-down interviews with the Lucasville Five surrounding the riot’s anniversary. She said many factors were weighed, including safety, security, the effect on staff and the nature of the case.

Under recent policy changes, Hasan and other inmates may make telephone calls of up to an hour, including to reporters. But hunger strikers argued that in-person meetings captured on video are a more powerful way to tell their side of the story.

Hasan said he expects the issue to lead to litigation.