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Lucasville 1994 "Spilt Milk"

By John W. Perotti

It's been almost two years since the 11-day siege at the southern Ohio Correctional Facility located in Lucasville, Ohio. The problem?  "Spilt milk" is just the beginning.

Millions of dollars have been spent on reconstruction of the prison and prosecution of the prisoners that the state said committed criminal acts during the siege. Steel encased control booths with double doors controlled electronically have been constructed in each cellblock with an escape ladder and hatch built in so that the guards can escape to the roof should the security of the double doors be breached. The back walls of the cellblock have been encased in steel so the concrete can't be broken out to get to anyone hiding in the back stairwell. TVcameras have been strategically located outside all the doors and in the hallways to monitor movement. Prisoners are only permitted out of their cells for meals and one hour recreation per day, one range at a time and under constant escort and surveillance by Disturbance Control Teams (Ninja Turtles) guards, dressed in black T shirts and fatigues. This is supposed to instill fear, a psychological tactic when actually they're just trying to dress like us and  are stationed in the hallways to quell any disturbances. Prisoners are rushed through the dining hall like cattle, rushed through their meal then marched back, range by range to their cells. Everything is delivered to the cell, there are no passes except for visits, and you're escorted both ways. Young vocal prisoners are set up and placed in the hole, then isolation.

As I was leaving the dining hall the other day three guards attacked a young black prisoner for the crime of refusing to clean up "spilt milk".  The prisoner in front of him who spilt the milk offered to clean it up but was told not to.  The guard claimed he "didn't like the other prisoner and wanted him to clean it up."  When he refused, he was attacked, wrestled to the floor then taken to the hole.

Myself and eight others were escorted to the hole an hour later. We were placed under "investigation" for merely witnessing the attack by the guards. The news media was told that the prisoner refused to clean up  spilt milk. They were not told he  wasn't  a food service worker, and it wouldn't normally be expected  his job to clean it up.  The news media was  told  he attacked the guards while 7 other prisoners cheered him on.

This is typical propaganda by the guards union who have been trying their hardest to have the prison locked down by feeding propaganda and intentional lies to the media and legislators. Attitudes are still a mile high due to the takeover last year.

Forty eight prisoners have been indicted on 198 charges from assault, kidnapping to aggravated murder with death penalty qualifications.  Twenty of the prisoners have been found  guilty  of charges with 8 pleading guilty.  Some have even turned states evidence against the others. After the Attica riot 8 Attica prisoners were either convicted or pled guilty, but all were later pardoned by the governor due to prosecutorial misconduct.  Prosecutors in Santa Fe New Mexico promised to indict more than 100 prisoners after that riot. Only 30 were criminally charged and early trials ended with not guilty verdicts.   There were no death penalty  convictions and prosecutors began reducing charges and offering plea bargains.

Ohio hired a team of special prosecutors headed by Mark Peeipmeir, an assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor. The state's strategy has been to bring the lesser charges to trial, obtain convictions  based on guards and snitch  claiming to be "eyewitness" with known fabricated testimony. The prosecutor wants to use the convictions to plea bargain and obtain state witnesses from the weaker prisoners under indictment. Five prisoners were indicted for aggravated murder with death penalty ability. The state obtained the indictments after a negotiator during the siege agreed to turn states evidence against his fellow prisoners regarding the death of guard Robert Vallandinghan when the state failed to take negotiations seriously. This prisoner was described by the media as being one of the leaders of the Black Gangster Disciples (Lavelkle).

My brother, Little Rock Reed, who has served years at SOCF has agreed to assist defense attorneys.  Little Rock Reed will help the defense of those Brothers criminally indicted for this takeover. Little Rock has written an article describing how former SOCF warden Arthur Tate advanced violence and the oppressive conditions leading up to the takeover.  The affirmative defense of self defense/justification should be an option for the brothers to illustrate the conditions were so oppressive the takeover was necessary to save THEIR lives.  Little Rock Reed is presently being persecuted by the Ohio Adult Parole Authority in fear of retaliation from "the system" for telling the truth.

Assistance for the trials can be obtained  through The Center For Advocacy Of Human  Rights, P.O.Box 880, Ranchos De Taos, New Mexico  87557-0880,  phone (505) 751-0197. Contact Attorney Deborah Garlin for information, or Professor Lance Kramer, AOC ASSOCIATES, 1321 Autumn Hill Dr. Columbus, Ohio  43215.

On other legal fronts the class action of Morris v. Voinavitch , Case No.C-1-93-436 is pending  in  the  United  States District Court in Cincinnati, Ohio, Judge Spiegel presiding. This suit deals with all uses of force  incurred by guards and prisoners during the siege, inadequate access to the law library and programs, medical treatment, property losses and the lock down in general.  Anyone with claims or seeking assistance for treatment  at  SOCF  should write to  Alphonse  A. Gerhardstein, Attorney  at Law, 617 Vine St., 1409 Enquirer Bldg., Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.

Anyone with specific instances of retaliation due to protected first amendment rights, specific  instances of denial of access to the law library, transfers from other prisons to SOCF without advance written notice or hearings,   RIB appeals to central office with no decision being made within the thirty day time period should write Mr. David Skidmore, Atty at Law, Vorys, Sater, Seymour,and Pease, Suite 2100,Atrium Two, 221 East Fourth Street., P.O.Box 0236, Cincinnati, Ohio 45201-0236 Phone (513) 723-4000 who is representing Chryz Knecht,  John Perotti and Keith Ledger in Knecht et al v. Voinavitch  et al.  Case No. C-1-94-12 (SD Ohio WD) (Judge Spiegel).

Anyone  witnessing  or  knowing  of  specific  instances  of  retaliation directed at these prisoners (or with specific instances of being harassed by  the Disturbance Control Team) should contact these attorneys, especially Skidmore.

It's up to us to open Lucasville back up. The guards union wants it locked down so all cases of prisoner on prisoner assaults are utilized by them to justify their cry to lock down Lucasville. Let's work together rather than against each other to further OUR goals of opening it back up.  Let's put aside petty difference and stand united against them, not each other. Use all legal remedies available:  informal complaint resolutions, grievances, suits and legal remedies first.  We need the families and friends of those imprisoned to speak to the media and legislators to let them know what is done to us in these Kamps.

Last, those that tend to grumble about how bad it is at Luke now and blame those involved in the take over need to re-evaluate the placement of the blame.  Not  everyone can file or litigate suits.  Some lack the knowledge,  and not everyone believes they should accept what is meted out to them in silence.  Those Brothers who took a stand did it to bring about change and while it may not have had immediate positive effects, you can believe that it will in the future.

Men cannot be treated like animals and continue to accept this treatment. Blame the prisoncrats for initiating the oppressive  conditions  that caused men to react in desperation. DO NOT blame your fellow prisoners who are paying dearly now for reasonable treatment.  They should be looked upon, not with disrespect, but with respect and praise.


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