We encourage you to lend your hearts and ears to the true account of how lies and corruption lead to the conviction of innocent men during the 1993 Lucasville riot. The men were singled out and used as scapegoats because they would not lie and take part in the department of rehabilitation and corrections (DRC) broader political scheme to bilk the Ohio tax payers out of money and persuade
the state to use this money for a supermax prison.
So far, for the last twenty two+ (22+) years the state has been successful in covering up this miscarriage of justice. There were deals and promises made to inmates for them to say anything that would help the state convict these men and many others by any means necessary.
The new warden’s name was Arthur Tate, who was supposedly chosen as someone who could restore order. However, as it was against the law to permanently lock the penitentiary down, Warden Tate immediately came under fire and had to wrestle against the accusation that we were being cuddled and catered to, a perception that Warden Tate despised and sought to dispel by severely limiting programs and out-of-cell time. But he could only do so much. In a very real sense, his hands were tied and the best he could do was start enforcing a strict dress code, which basically meant we had to keep our shirts tucked in at all times. He also had yellow “caution” lines painted on each side of the hallway floors, apparently to create the illusion of physical and psychological distance between inmates and Corrections Officers (C.O.’s), but it was all smoke and mirrors.
Finally, as a last resort, Warden Tate sought permission from Eric Dahlberg, South regional director, to build a high security (i.e., super max) unit inside the prison. He was convinced that this was the one and only way to address the potential threat that certain individuals posed. But since SOCF was already equipped with a high security unit consisting of twenty (20) cells which were
very seldom, if ever, completely full, Warden Tate’s request was denied. In addition to that, Mr. Dahlberg’s office lacked the finances necessary to fund the building of an additional unit and, therefore, would have to convince the state legislature to provide it. They needed a riot.
In order to prove that SOCF was unable to contain the potential violence that Warden Tate predicted, they needed a disturbance that exceeded their ability to control. Thus began what became known as “operation shakedown.” Warden Tate gave his C.O.’s the green light to do whatever they wanted to do, and this unleashed years of pent up rage, stemming from Beverly Taylor’s death, which expressed itself in the worst possible way.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, SOCF was known as a place where inmates were routinely beaten and killed. And when Warden Tate instituted operation shakedown, it became evident that old trends would be resumed with renewed vigor. All of a sudden, minor transgressions were met with extreme hostility, e.g. , if you were caught crossing the yellow “caution” lines it could result in
you being slammed, head first, into the wall and then rushed to the hole to face disciplinary action. And this was only the beginning.
In prison, most of the day-to-day operations are run by the prisoners themselves. Prisoners determine where you work, where you cell and how much access you have to certain areas of the penitentiary; C.O.’s are there mainly to prevent anyone from escaping.
When operation shakedown began, the whole complexion of the penitentiary changed. Now the only way to work where you wanted and cell where you wanted, you had to be in cahoots with Administration and there was no such thing as middle-of-the-road; you either worked with Administration or you were subject to the insanity that ensued: Known racist were being forced to cell with black militants. Homosexuals were placed in cells with individuals who were known to be homophobic. Rules were changed on an almost daily basis, leaving us in constant confusion. And just when you though things couldn’t get any worse, Mansfield corrections, a Northern Ohio penitentiary, sent 200-300 of its most unruly inmates to SOCF. In the midst of all this volatility, the administration started showing ultra-violent prison movies, depicting inmates stabbing,
raping and killing each other.
As April approached, you could sense that it was only a matter of time before something serious was going to happen. Tension between prisoners and C.O.’ s began to rise as the C.0.’s become more and more violent. In hindsight, it’s hard to say what the Muslims expected when they took the keys and weapons, but when all the cells were opened, years of repressed animosity burst forward in a torrent of unbridled aggression. Warden Tate had finally gotten his riot.
The 11-day ordeal started with a dispute between the warden and Muslim prisoners and ended with a negotiated settlement, but only after nine prisoners and one hostage had been killed.
Their first move in a long-line of deceptions were to send in a group of prosecutors to question us without reading us our rights and without making it clear that we were entitled to counsel.