Tuesday morning outside of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) there was an honor guard standing at attention, wreaths to decorate a memorial and memories flooding the minds of those who were there, or who had loved ones involved in the 1993 Lucasville Prison Riot, the longest in U.S. history.
As many families were celebrating Easter Sunday 30 years ago, the word was quickly spread about inmates taking over the maximum security facility. Several prison guards were held hostage, and eventually one guard by the name of Robert Vallandingham, was killed in hopes to have the inmates many demands met by state officials.
Even someone who hasn’t had to walk inside those doors, such as myself, was trying to not get emotional as Taps was being played while my father, Darrold Clark Jr., placed a wreath on the memorial. My dad was not only an employee during this scary and violent event, but was one of the hostages. He is now the only one of those hostages remaining at SOCF, but not for long. He will soon be retiring after 32 years of service.
My father, who is currently a Captain at the prison, hasn’t known much else besides corrections. He went to work to provide for his family at 21 years old and did so without many complaints, or really even talking about those events that transpired during his captivity. It wasn’t until middle school when one of my teachers was talking to me about the riot that I understood the impact that it had on community members, or the nation wide initiatives that began after it ended to make these institutions a safer place to work.
As an adult I now recognize the magnitude of these events and why people keep talking about what happened on that Easter Sunday.
Netflix created a show called Captive, which features an episode dealing with the 11 day riot, there are multiple interviews online, books that talk about it and much more information available from so many local media outlets that go over the many details.
One thing that can be agreed on is that those events changed this field “Complacency in this line of work can be deadly said Clark “I know that many changes were made and are still being made to this day.”
There are a lot of mixed emotions he is experiencing when it comes to getting ready to walk out the gates for the last time.
“It’s scary to think about leaving, but I know it’s time. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about what has happened here, but i’m sure my family has plenty for me to do to keep me busy.”
There will be a retirement party in the coming weeks as his time is quickly winding down at SOCF and when I asked my dad what is to come next?
“Looks like you all will be making me a long list of chores.”