It was 20-years ago that inmates took guards hostage, killing one of the prison employees
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -Three of five Ohio inmates sentenced to death for a historic prison riot plan a hunger strike starting on the uprising's 20th anniversary Thursday to protest the state's refusal to allow them sit-down media interviews on their cases.
The state has had two decades to tell its side of the story and the inmates known as the Lucasville Five should have their chance, Siddique Abdullah Hasan said in an exclusive telephone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday.
``We have been suffering very torturous conditions for two decades,'' said Hasan, formerly Carlos Sanders. ``We have never been given the opportunity completely to speak about our cases, to speak to the media _ because the media has an enormous amount of power. They can get our message out to the court of public opinion.''
Twelve staff members were taken hostage on April 11, 1993, Easter Sunday, when inmates overtook the prison in Lucasville that sits 10 miles north of the Ohio River. Hasan was convicted for helping plan the murder of Corrections Officer Robert Vallandingham, among 10 who died during the 11-day uprising, the longest deadly prison riot in U.S. history. Hasan denies he was involved in planning or carrying out the killing.
Hasan, Keith LaMar and Jason Robb, all sentenced to death after the uprising, will take their last meals Wednesday evening ahead of their protest at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Hasan said. Also participating will be Gregory Curry, a participant in the rebellion sentenced to life in prison.
James Were, another of the Lucasville Five, is diabetic and will not take part. The fifth man sentenced to death after the riot, George Skatzes, is at a different prison in Chillicothe.
JoEllen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said in denying an AP request for sit-down interviews ahead of Thursday's anniversary that many factors are considered. They include safety and security of the prison and the impact on victims or staff.
Among the department's concerns has been that the five would bring up prison conditions such as overcrowding that led to the 1993 riot or try to elicit sympathy for being held in super-maximum security.
``I'm not concerned about overcrowdedness. It doesn't affect me because I'm always going to be isolated,'' Hasan said. ``They said they didn't want us to talk about indefinite confinement in a super-max prison. I could care less about that. I'm not trying to make prison a paradise for myself. I'm trying to get the hell out of prison.''