Four prisoners at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown plan to begin a hunger strike this week to protest their treatment at the supermax prison.
The prisoners, all sentenced to death for their roles in the 1992 Lucasville prison uprising, are protesting their treatment, specifically that they are not placed on death row.
As Dennis O’Hearn, professor of Sociology at Binghamton University in New York, writes in an op-ed column in Monday’s Vindicator: “Why would anyone rather be on death row than at Ohio State Penitentiary?”
“I’ve been asking myself that question since I began visiting OSP Youngstown a few years ago.
“Now, the death-sentenced prisoners I visit are so desperate that they are going on a hunger strike, essentially for the right to be on death row. The four hunger strikers participated in the 1993 prison rebellion in Lucasville and at least some of them saved lives by acting as negotiators with the authorities. In return, they were deemed to be prison leaders and received the death penalty for murders committed during the uprising. The evidence against them was largely testimonies of other prisoners who actually committed the murders.
“Let’s leave aside the question of whether these men were guilty or, if so, whether they deserve to be executed. The question at hand is, why were they sentenced to death, yet the state of Ohio refuses to put them on death row?”
Read O’Hearn’s full commentary Monday on The Vindicator’s op-ed page and on Vindy.com.