Ohio State Penitentiary, Youngstown, Ohio
Feb 20-22, 2012

Upon hearing about the call for a national “Occupy 4 Prisoners” mobilization, at least 20 prisoners at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) organized a one-day solidarity hunger strike. During the action, they heard about outside demonstrations and decided to issue demands and extend their protest. Two days later, the Warden met with the prisoners and agreed to accommodate demands for more outdoor recreation, improved programming, food and commissary prices.

Prisoners initiated the  Occupy 4 Prisoners call, and Occupy Oakland spread it and organized a large demonstration at San Quentin State Prison. Organizers with RedBird Prison Abolition in Columbus Ohio planned a workshop and demonstration delivering letters to politicians and officials involved in the prison system, and spread the action call to contacts at Ohio’s supermax.

Prisoners at the supermax were excited to hear about the call to action and organized a one day fast as “a symbolic gesture, a way of locking arms with the people on the outside.” By the end of the day the prisoners decided to hold out and make some modest demands: that the institution conform with court ordered minimum outdoor recreation time and address price gouging by the commissary and telephone companies. Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan, a death row prisoner who has  been held in solitary confinement since his involvement in the 1993 Lucasville Uprising, led the hunger strike, and spoke about it in a statement recorded by PrisonRadio.org.

On Wednesday the 22nd, the prisoners had skipped enough meals to make the hunger strike official and they met with Warden David Bobby, who agreed to the following:

1. Reversing the recent decision to reduce outdoor recreation time for prisoners to a schedule alternating between 3 and 4 hours per week
2. Improving enrichment programming, including new movies and religious movies for the prison television station.
3. Bringing the head dietitian from Central Office in Columbus to review OSP food policies and hear prisoner complaints about inedible and scorched food.
4. A number of specific instances of price-gouging, skimping and lack of variety in the commissary.

Imam Hasan had negotiated and favorably resolved hunger strikes with OSP Warden David Bobby in the past, and said the prisoners “don’t anticipate the kind of situation going on in California” a reference to negotiations with CDCR during the California Hunger strikes.

 

Citations:

National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners“, Occupy Oakland, January 2012.

Demonstrators “Occupy San Quentin” for a National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners”Indybay, February 22, 2012.

Hundreds of Occupy Protesters Gather Outside San Quentin State Prison“, NBC Bay Area,  February 20, 2012.

Occupy Movement Stages Day of Protests at US Prisons“, The Guardian, February 20, 2012.

Occupy for Prisoners“, Redbird Prison Abolition, February 2012.

Statement of Solidarity and Victory with Occupy 4 Prisoners“, Prison Radio, February 2012.