Nov 9 1997
Information has reached this advocate from two reliable sources that Keith Lamar of Mansfield Death Row was brutally beaten by correctional officers on the eve of the scheduled prisoner work stoppage, Oct 31.
During separate conversations with Sonny Williams of the Ohio Prisoners' Rights Union and Marianne Kruse-Blanchong of the Ohio Death Row Support Project, it was learned that Keith Lamar's food hatch door was opened by a Lt. Young (who does not work DR but is assigned to property room duty) and pepper spray and/or gas was used on him. He was forcibly removed from his cell after being "subdued" by this Lt. (and possibly others) and his whereabouts since then are unknown. Keith Lamar is the supposed instigator of the Mansfield DR Uprising of Sept 5.
Marianne Kruse-Blanchong reports that today, Nov 8, 1997, she received a letter from DR prisoner David Sneed that stated Lamar had offered no resistance, had provoked no one, and that the regular DR guards and a Sgt. Clark had backed up Lt. Young's story. Question -- if it is fact that Lt. Young is not usually assigned to DR, why was he in this section of the prison and why was he allowed access to Keith Lamar? Where is Keith Lamar??
Also, in the same letter, it is reported that DR prisoners Richey (Scotty), Van Hooks, Howell, Gardner, Benge, Storges, Saunders, Ware, and Luke 5's Jason Robb have all been charged with one count of assault each (supposedly for beating Joey Murphy) and possession of manufactured weapons. All these above named prisoners are in the "hole" at Mansfield, awaiting an RIB (Rules Infraction Board) hearing. By law, these prisoners are allowed to call witnesses in their defense, and to hear any evidence against them that may lead to criminal charges with a representative of theirs present. The "tickets" have been issued because confidential information was given to the prison officials, supposedly by another DR prisoner. Courts have ruled that in the chance event that testifying against a fellow prisoner may lead to physical harm or death, an accusing prisoner does not have to be present to give evidence when the accused violations hearing occurs. This means that none of the above named will be able to face their accuser during the hearing process. It would be no surprise if guilty verdicts are handed to all so that Administrative Control (AC) can be lawfully used against them to keep them from contact with their family, friends, and supporters.
The situation at Mansfield is worriesome. It is reported that only the attorneys are allowed to have phone calls with these particular prisoners, and then only with Warden Coyle's approval. Family and friends have not been allowed calls or visits since the Uprising. Letters to family, friends, and supporters are routinely being delayed, lost, or tampered with. Magazines, newspapers, and other reading materials are being held (according to prison sources) until "the prisoner is back on regular DR so that none will be misplaced." Personal possessions of the prisoners are of the most minimal. Regular toothbrushes are not allowed to them. Regular shoes are denied. There is no proof that any of these prisoners participated in the Uprising of Sept 5, and plenty of proof that they were severely beaten, and still they continue to be mishandled by the Mansfield Prison authorities.
Mrs. Kruse-Blanchong has written and continues to write letters to Warden Coyle, repeatedly requesting that these prisoners be allowed to return to DR "general population" and that they be allowed to receive visits and undelayed mail from family, friends, and supporters. She has personally spoken to Warden Coyle about her concerns and has received the stock reply -- prison situations require certain measures that may seem harsh, etc. etc. etc....
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS are occurring at Mansfield. Be they murderers or not, these men are still on United States property, and therefore are still entitled to some constitutional protections. The US government routinely condemns nations such as China, South Africa, and Turkey for its numerous present and past human rights violations, yet looks the other way when it happens inside America's own prisons. In letters to President Clinton about the conditions at Mansfield Death Row, Mrs. Kruse-Blanchong has received no understanding that this situation is contrary to all the tenets of the United Nations Statement in Support of International Human Rights. The President supports the use of the death penalty, and therefore it must be inferred that he believes he has no place to interfere in prison procedures in regards to death row prisoners.
The question begs to be answered -- cannot one support the death penalty and still favor humane treatment of prisoners on death row??
In sympathy with the Death Row prisoners above named, Sonny Williams began a juice only fast on Oct 15. On Oct 16, he was joined by George Skatzes, and on Oct 17, by Jerry Hessler. On Nov 1, John Perotti, of Trumball Correctional joined the liquids only fast. During a phone interview with Mr. Williams this evening, information that one DR prisoner has been granted a visit from his sister, with the scheduled date of visit being 9 November, has led to Mr. Williams discontinuing his liquids only fast. At this writing it is not known if George Skatzes, Larry Hessler, or John Perotti are continuing theirs. Mr. Williams did indicate that if the visit is not allowed, that he will resume the fast and continue it until an actual visit occurs.
On Nov 13, Mrs. Kruse-Blanchong will distribute a press release in which she announces her intentions of starting a liquids only fast on Nov 15 with Karen Torley of the Kenny Richey Support Project in Scotland, to protest the general treatment of the prisoners who are being charged with assault on Death Row. When informed of the scheduled visit for the DR prisoner she stated:
"I still intend to fast as planned in protest of the conditions the guys are forced to endure while being held in the hole unjustly and for the beatings that are still occuring. For me one visit is not a cure. The beatings will have to end. The whereabouts of Keith and why this beating took place has to be answered."
In the near future she is hoping to make a trip to Scotland to meet with members of Parliament in support of Kenny Richey, a prisoner on Ohio's Death Row for 12 years, and Louise Woodard, the au pair convicted on 2nd degree murder charges in Massachusetts.
The OPRU, ODRSP, and FADS request that this information be made public knowledge thru any legal means at your disposal.
Letters of support to Death Row prisoners should be mailed to:
Warden Ralph Coyle
PO Box 788
Mansfield OH 44901
Call: 419-526-2000 to register your complaints about how Richey, Van Hooks, Howell, Gardener, Benge, Storges, Saunders, Ware, and Jason Robb are being denied human rights. Demand to know where Keith Lamar is, if he is alive, and when the reported abuses on Ohio's Death Row will stop!
Those of you in the media, why are you not investigating the many reports of prisoner abuse on Mansfield Death Row? Yes, they are unpopular prisoners, but they are American citizens or have been ajudicated guilty under American law and are entitled to certain protections. These rights and entitlements are reportedly being violated on a regular basis.
If you have further information to send to us, email:
FADS: Families Against Disparate Sentences
Ohio Death Row Support Project
1628 N.Michigan St.
Toledo OH 43604
Ohio Prisoners' Rights Union
530 East 13th St.
Cincinnati OH 45210
The following letter was mailed to the warden of Mansfield Correctional Institution where Keith Lamar and other Death Row prisoners are awaiting their dates of execution. It has been reported that Mr. Lamar is at Mansfield in Security Control. When inquiry was made to a prison guard as to why Lamar is there the response was he "was having problems adjusting." Adjusting to what is not explained. If you are interested in adding your thirst for justice to those advocates around the world who are beginning a liquids only fast on 15 November, please contact this site manager with this information.
10 November, 1997
PO Box 788
Mansfield, OH 44901
Dear Warden Colye,
Man can break the fragile thread in any environment when violence is introduced, and I fear that fragile thread is being broken by the constant beatings that the men in the environment of your death row are experiencing.
Not but a few months ago there was an uprising where men on a block were beaten, and afterwards a guard was terminated. I have since received letters from several inmates expressing their fears and concerns over the most recent incident which occurred on Friday October 31st, 1997.
A Lt. Young who is employed in the property room, entered LC Unit 5 B, and for no reason opened the food hatch of Mr. Keith Lamar’s cell and sprayed him with an aerosol mace. No one heard Mr. Lamar resist or respond in a violent manner that would warrant a beating. Then to add insult to injury, Sgt. Clark filled out his paperwork in favor of Lt. Young’s actions by stating that Mr. Lamar refused to be cuffed.
Why did Lt. Young go to Mr. Lamar’s cell in the first place?
Mr. Lamar has not been returned to his cell and his whereabouts is unknown, which adds to the concern of the other inmates.
Many inmates were given tickets to appear before the R.I.B board, three inmates in particular are, Mr. Kenneth T. Richey, Mr. Robert VanHook, and Mr. Jason Robb, for assault, manufacturing weapons, and destruction of property during the last uprising. My question is how could this of taken place when the three men were locked in one cell together to avoid injury? These same three men were forced onto the floor by guards then beaten. The reason behind these charges are (sic) based on what another inmate has stated. My question to you is how could these charges be faithful when they were locked in the cell? And if they were not locked in the cell, then how did they receive their injuries as reported?
I ask these questions due to the fact the men are not permitted to question their accusers or question the evidence.
In closing I would like to inform you that myself and several others around the world are actively joining other inmates on death row in a liquid fast, and will remain on this fast until the mistreatment of the inmates is stopped, Mr. Lamar is returned to his cell, and there is an investigation into Lt. Young’s actions, with Sgt. Clark included, for their conduct is unbecoming and violates a community inside and outside a prison.
The 174 men within the environment of your death row are human beings, not animals. To be locked in a cell and not know when your food hatch is opened if you will be the next one to be mazed (sic) and beaten, can result in a very stressful situation that constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Please stop that fragile thread from breaking. Only you can investigate and stop the needless violence of maltreatment and abuse. I sent you a letter expressing my concerns over the work stoppage and spoke of working together. I implore you to work with us again in this matter and then our fast will end.
Ohio Coordinator for the Death Row Support Project
US. Kenny Richey Support Project
cc: Governor Voinivich, Attorney General Betty Montgomery, President Bill Clinton, the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.