By John Perotti
On February 9, 1984, Jimmy Haynes, a black prisoner, was beaten and then murdered by 12 white guards at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) al Lucasville, Ohio. The cause of death was a crushed windpipe after one guard held a PR-24 stick behind his neck and another jumped on this throat. This set the stage for a series of actions due to the tensions. A month later, after eight guards formed in front of my cell and ran in to assassinate me, I disarmed one and stabbed him, sending the rest running. Three more stabbings of guards occurred within the next few months which sparked investigations by the media and legislature into guard attacks on prisoners resulting in less attacks.
Mrs. Haynes sued the guards involved in killing her son. The state argued qualified immunity all the way to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which refused to sustain this argument and sent the case back to the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati for trial.
The trial started on April 15, 1991, Marc Mazibou, the attorney who represented the art director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center (who was indicted for "obscenity" for exhibiting the Mapplethorpe exhibition) represented Mrs. Haynes. Assistant Attorney General Allen Adler represented the guards. Mr. Adler claimed that the guards only used reasonable force to subdue Jimmy and that a breathing tube improperly installed by Scioto County paramedics was the real cause of death. Typical state propaganda.
Bernice "Ma" Bell, a former nurse at SOCF was called to the stand by Mrs. Haynes' counsel. Ma Bell testified that on February 7, 1984, two days before the murder, Jimmy Haynes told her "Miss Ma Bell...you just don't understand. They're (the guards) going to kill me." Two days later they did.
The trial lasted for two weeks and the jury deliberated for two days before returning with a verdict against three of the guards for a total of $1,022,000.00 in damages. $250,000.00 of the verdict is for punitive damages, which the guards must pay themselves since Ohio law does not indemnify punitive damages, only compensatory.
State Representative Louis Stakes, who pressed hard for indictment of the guards at the time of the incident stated: "The one million does not adequately compensate for the life of this human being. However, there is some measure of justice through this verdict. This was a vicious, calculated act on the part of these officers who deliberately took this man's life."
The guards were never indicted, even though a special prosecutor was appointed to present the case to the Scioto County grand jury, because there were SOCF prison guards on that grand jury and Scioto County prosecutor Lynn Grundaus (friend of all prisoncrats) refused to convene a new grand jury.
Of course, the state plans to appeal what they say are "many errors and inconsistencies" in the verdict.
Was justice served for Jimmy Haynes? No amount of money can replace a fallen brother. All who knew him loved him. Hopefully a message will be sent to sadistic prison guards to think twice before practicing their sadism on our brothers. Our love, sorrow and solidarity to Mrs. Haynes.
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