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Ohio Prisoner On Hunger Strike Against Punishment For Netflix Documentary Enters Infirmary

Ohio prisoner Siddique Abdullah Hasan entered the infirmary at the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) on March 24, “presumably due to failing health,” nearly one month into his hunger strike against a 90-day phone and email restriction he received as punishment for appearing in the Netflix documentary series, “Captive.”

One episode of the series chronicles the events surrounding the deadly 1993 prison riot known as the Lucasville Uprising, for which Hasan was convicted and sentenced to death. He has been in solitary confinement on death row at OSP ever since.

Another prisoner on death row at the prison for a conviction from the Lucasville Uprising, Jason Robb, also appeared in the episode. He was punished with phone and email restrictions alongside Hasan and the two went on hunger strike together.

It is unclear if Robb’s hunger strike is still ongoing, although there is some indication he was admitted to the infirmary before Hasan and ended his hunger strike shortly thereafter.

Hasan appealed the 90-day phone and email restriction. In response, Ohio prison director Gary Mohr sent him a form letter that his supporters say did not address any of the issues he raised. They are asking the public to call Mohr and other prison officials to demand an end to the restrictions and that prison officials be severely reprimanded for violating his right to due process and displaying bias toward them.

Supporters say the hunger strike is part of an “ongoing struggle for equal protection, basic human rights and survival after decades of living under the most restrictive and torturous conditions of confinement” at the supermax prison.

In 2013, Hasan, Robb, and others convicted in connection to the Lucasville Uprising, joined journalists Chris Hedges and James Ridgeway to file a lawsuit against Ohio prison officials for blocking their access to the media.

Along with the free speech issues raised by the lawsuit, the prisoners of the Lucasville Uprising argue that considerable doubt surrounding the allegations on which their convictions are based makes it all the more imperative they be allowed to tell their side of the story publicly. Otherwise, the only narrative available is that of corrections staff.

“State officials, in both the ‘Captive’ documentary and a 2013 documentary called ‘The Shadow of Lucasville,’ have admitted that some prisoners were given deals to testify against Hasan, Robb and others, and that no one really knows who committed the most serious crimes during the uprising,” Hasan’s supporters said in a press release. “In court, they argued the opposite to secure death penalty convictions.”

Hasan had his phone and email privileges restricted several times over the past year, as prison officials sought to stop him from speaking to journalists about topics including the Lucasville Uprising and the 2016 nationwide prison strike against slave labor.

Texas Congressman Lamar Smith at a hearing for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Screencap from CSPAN broadcast.
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Brian Sonenstein

Brian Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.