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Ohio Prison Activist Conference

On April 29th and 30th, 1995, prison activists from around the state attended the Ohio Prison Activist Conference. The theme was "Struggling on the Outside for Those Struggling on the Inside." This conference was organized by Oberlin Action Against Prisons (OAAP) working in conjunction with the Ohio Criminal Justice Program of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Dayton.

The purpose of the conference was to determine who all are presently fighting for reform and abolition of prisons and in the criminal injustice system, and to determine how all could network resources and energies for common goals.

Attending the conference were multi-diversified representatives ranging from the AFSC Criminal Justice Program to the Revolutionary Communist Party. Speakers included: Civil rights attorney Nicky Schwartz, who negotiated the surrender of the Lucasville brothers after the 11-day siege at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in April, 1993; Hal Pepinsky, board member of the Center for Advocacy of Human Rights and professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Indiana University; Alan Prendergast, journalist and Kiplinger Fellow. These three discussed the conditions leading up to the Easter '93 uprising at Lucasville (SOCF), the economics of prisons as industries, the present public hysteria toward crime, the conditions and factors leading up to Control Units, and the call for a Super-Max in Ohio.

A workshop on Synthesis and Networking was held to develop strategies for building a more expansive and effective network of Ohio prison activists. It was decided that OAAP would plan another conference for October '95 rather than waiting a whole year until next spring. Discussions were held on changing public opinion, researching litigation, and organizing demonstrations.

All in all, the conference was a success in that it established a viable network in Ohio for all groups and individuals to share information, and in doing so, become more effective. One of the issues highlighted is the need to draw energy and direction from those inside. In turn, those of us inside must accept the responsibility to initiate contact and actively assist those on the outside who are working with and for us. Too few prisoners want to take these steps, preferring to stay out of the way and just accept what's meted out to them.

There will be another Ohio activist conference sponsored by OAAP and the Dayton AFSC at Oberlin College on October 28-9, 1995. We ask interested activists to attend to share ideas to fight the supermax as well as other projects. For more information call Jana Schroeder, AFSC Director, 915 Salem Ave., Dayton, Ohio 45406-5879. Phone: (513) 278-4225.Fax: (513) 278-2778. Arrangements are being made for transportation.

Also, any groups or individuals who have been lobbying or litigating women prisoners health issues, write John W. Perotti, SOCF 167712, PO Box 45699, Lucasville, OH 45699-0001, who is in contact with the National Womens Health Network in DC which is compiling information on womens health problems for coordination of lobbying efforts.

[Editor's Note: Are you imprisoned? Do you like it there? What have you done this week, this month, this year to do something about not only your own imprisonment, but the political conditions that pave the way for a generation of poor schmucks coming up behind you? When was the last "Prison Activist Conference" in your state? Maybe it's time to do something. If not you, who? If not now, when?]

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