Preface: Jake Walton has submitted to FADS before, sending us an article that was controversial but gladly received by advocates across the State of Ohio. He is well known to advocates as a man who practices what he preaches. He is known to prison officials as a man who, with a word, can quash a potentially volatile situation, or create a very serious one. He does not make idle threats.
When he first submitted his original article in August, shortly after our premiere, he urged that rational and calm discourse be used by advocates when dealing with the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the Adult Parole Authority. The man who wrote that article is an experienced litigator who has won lawsuits, and he knows the value of one's moral convictions being valid as a testament to the person who carries them. He also recognizes the inanity of the dual sentencing structures currently agitating prisoners, advocates, attorneys, DRC officials, and politicians in Ohio.
Thus, this notice of intent to fast must be taken seriously. It should be noted that during a conversation, it was confirmed to this site manager that Mr. Walton has indeed begun his fast, and he is currently being housed in Inmate Health Services (IHS) at Ross Correctional. He is being closely monitored for any precipitous changes in his state of health.
WE, at FADS, urge you to read his story, send it to your local papers, and write your congressional leaders, prison officials, and any other individuals or groups that you can think of to alert them to this situation. FADS is not endorsing Mr. Walton's fast, nor are we denying him the right to fast. Our stand is neutral, for we respect the exercise of one's individual conscience whenever he/she feels so compelled to act in a non-violent manner to right a perceived injustice. As an outlet for prisoners and families to express their deepest frustrations and as a source of information to both on issues affecting their daily existence, FADS is compelled to run Mr. Walton's fast statement in its entirety.
The problem with the current quick fix legislation attempts are that they are an attempt to create the invalid perception of parity between the Maximum Sentences of Pre-Senate Bill 2 Prisoners and those sentenced after the bill went into effect.
In order to qualify for Federal Funding, which was why Ohio so radically changed its entire Criminal Revised Code in the first place, the State of Ohio MUST meet the 85% of time served on the Maximum Sentence for all tier I felonies, and 50% for all deemed tier II felonies. So no matter what is done to bring about the perception of change, the reality of the economics involved dictate that until the Maximum Sentence Issues are dealt with head on and parity in the application of the laws and duration of maximum sentences are addressed nothing at all has, in fact, changed.
Ohio's desire to get this funding is the reason why it changed the Laws in the first place, and the phases of implementation have been of enormous cost; however, that funding will not be forthcoming based on any parity parole reform due to Parole not being held by the Feds as a continuation of Custody. Thus, any Parole prior to the 85% or 50% Maximum Mandate prevents the funding from being given for non-compliance.
Any changes which elude this are ducking the primary impetus to the growing dilemma Ohio has created for itself. To keep Federal Funding, Ohio MUST comply with these mandates relating to the amount of time served prior to release on parole, or the State Does NOT Get The Funding.
This issue MUST be dealt with head on, for any other attempt will be pre-ordained to FAILURE for everyone concerned, be they Prisoners or their Families, or the Voters and TAX PAYERS of this State who were sold on this agenda, and who are now being misinformed as to its consequences and outcome.
I repeat -- any Prisoner who is released prior to these percentage mandate's on maximum sentences will cost Ohio its funding.
Ohio attempted to differentiate between New Law and Old Law Prisoners in order to comply in its first application attempt, but it was DENIED due to the Federal Government NOT DISTINGUISHING between the two separate classes of Prisoners. The mandate is inclusive of ALL Prisoners as a whole in Ohio. Thus, the Old Law Prisoners are being denied Equal Protection of, and Parity under the Laws of Ohio. This is the real issue surrounding the growing frustrations in the penal system, and they need to be met head on because the amount of impact both in terms of lives and in cost to the tax payer is staggering.
In order to bring this issue to the fore-front, effective December 11, 1997 I will begin and continue a hunger-strike until this issue is dealt with by state officials.
I am writing this regarding my decision concerning my future, or better put my lack of one at this point in my existance as a prisoner in Ohio. My name is Harry Jacob Walton # R120-128. R.C.I.
I will begin with a brief historical account. My family has been kept out of my problem here for the most part, and as such have little insight as to the dilemma as I perceive it to be. I was recently given another three year continuance by a Parole Board member. I did not fill out a parole plan due to not having enough time left to do so, and the reality that I can not ask my family to relocate on a maybe, they simply do have that sort of economic condition, and as was expected the same old excuse or reasoning was applied as justification for the three years.
I am a convicted felon for rape, one count. It was a date crime, and yes, I am guilty of it. It is my one and only number. I am a first time offender, and as such was sentenced to the Ohio State Reformatory which no longer exists. I was convicted in March of 1982. I was given a 7 to 25 year sentence in the O.S.R. with a parole eligibility date of 29 months. After 8 years, 10 months I was Paroled, had a job and was attempting to re-enter the world, when after about 90 days time I was stupid, drove while drinking, and was cited for DUI.
In Court on the DUI citation, the A.P.A. informed Judge Hogan that I would not be revocated due to a traffic violation. He then accepted my plea of guilty (which he had refused to do at the initial hearing) and gave me some advice regarding not trying to make up for lost time and slowing down and letting life go its way without this sort of thing re-occurring. I was fined, given a driving suspension of work hours only. Once High Risk Insurance was secured, as is the law, I then was told by him that I would process with the Clerk of Court for payment arrangements and release paperwork and I was free to go. Upon leaving the court room I was snatched up by two A.P.A. officers and transported to C.R.C. for a revocation hearing -- contrary to what was said in the Court of Judge Hogan.
I was taken back to prison for the DUI traffic violation in January 1990. I waived counsel, as the previous 1500 dollar attorney had proven simply a waste of money, and I chose to just go with the program whatever it might be, and did not plea bargain the in the revocation process; rather, I dismissed the state appointed attorney, and pled guilty to the violation, as I had indeed been guilty of violating a state law by getting the traffic ticket. My perception at that time was that when inmates used the plea bargain process over the APA and basically trade a lighter amount of time for a waiver of a formal hearing and calling witnesses, that the Board will normally go light that day per the agreement and simply get with them with what they really had in mind when this formal process is over and at the next hearing where no attorney is.
So I went in and took what I had coming. I wanted to know up front without leveraging the outcome what I was looking at, and my common law wife, Kathy, was waiting in the visiting room to find out as well. I was given one year, told to get counseling and AA, and that if I planned to parole to Kathy next year, I would have to go on and get married for real, as the APA would no longer recognize common law marriages. I was then sent to Warren Correctional Institution.
Upon arriving at Warren I was given a job as Food Services clerk and during the course of the year, I married Kathy in the visiting room, went to AA, chemical dependancy, participated in one-on-one sessions with a staff psychologist, and upon returning to the Board a year later, I took a 70 Job Evaluation, a job offer, and a place to go where I would have had support.
At this hearing I was informed by a Mr. Kline that I was being given another three years, that Mrs. Ghee was now the Chairwoman of the APA and she said I was not to engage in any relationships, sexual relations, nor be married, and to get Sex Offender Group Counseling, not one-on-one sessions with a psychologist.
Kathy took it very hard and shortly after that, we broke it off. I was interviewed for the Sex Offender program towards the end of the three years, and denied based on information from the psychologist regarding my placement in a group which included child molesters. He advised against it and thought it not to be in my own rehabilitative interest, as well as being potentially indifferent to the group setting, and to re-apply in six months.
Around this time, I had also graduated colleqe with an A.S. in Business Administration, and was then dropped to medium status, and transfered to Ross Correctional Institution, a place much farther from my home and family, and where, as I found out upon arrival, no Sex Offender Program was available. As a bonus, I was placed in J dorm. I refused and sought immediatly to get raised to close and transfered back to Warren. I was placed in isolation for about five months and then told I was going nowhere and to accept it or rot in the hole.
Shortly after my release into unit 3-B, I went before the APA, where I was told while they understand my problem getting this program, that they can not over-ride the Chairwoman, and gave me three more years in which I was to get the DR&C to place me in a program and I was to rebuild my community ties. Kathy, at this point, asked me to give her a divorce and she could not afford its expense. So I did as requested and filed and obtained our divorce in Ross County Court in order to alleviate the expense.
I was shortly after this informed that I should try to go to NCCI, which I later learned was not only a dorm setting, but even farther from my home, making visitation almost impossible for the next three years, which also further isolates and decreases communty ties. Because of the fact I was told that the waiting list for any program was now 3 to 5 years, I declined the transfer and again requested to be returned to close status and sent back to Warren Correctional, which is closer to my family. At that time it still had a program that was now the only and sole reason for my continued incarceration.
Now I had a total of seven years in for the traffic violation of DUI, and parole re-enstatement was being denied due to a program that the DR&C will not seem to allow me to get. They even had one across the street; however, an inmate is there who molested my brother-in-law's children so I can not go.
After all this, I filed suit against the DR&C and the APA. And, of course, I lost, as the DR&C has qualified immunity which means if they do not understand their conduct is unlawful at the time, they can not be held accountable. And the APA was dismissed as rank speculation; it was ruled that I had no liberty interest regarding parole on which to base a claim. After lengthy and costly litigation over the span of a year, the State chose to fight the case to its conclusion rather than accept my written offer to the Court, which was very simple: Transfer me and give me access to participation in a Sex Offender program at DCI or Warren Correctional Institution and the case would be dismissed. However, the State likes to win and then point out the loss as frivolous litigation, so the fact that I was just trying to do as I was ordered to do by the APA, the DR&C's partner Agency, was denied, and I lost the case and sit here in Ross to this day.
Now here we are Seven years later; I'm divorced, cut off from my family with no phone capability, and rare contact due to economic hardships of my family. I get a parole plan a few days prior to the hearing and I have no idea what or where to put down, so I tell the case worker I have to decline the forms at this time as I had nowhere to put down yet. The case worker in unit 6A said okay. However, he then wrote "refused" on it and forwarded it to the Parole Board. I went before a single board member named Mr Cotten, and he gave me three more years and told me getting to a program was my problem; that I had an attitude problem; I should create community ties; and I should have the program by the end of the three years or I would not ever be re-instated without it. I told him given the situation that he: may as well give me my max date as I have no control over my placement; the program has a waiting list of three to five years after you actually get there to sign up (as I'm frequently told by staff here prior to every request to go back to Warren); that the psychologist had recommended I not attend a group, and I can't override the psych department either, even if and when I'm again interviewed for this program. He had no other information about me on file; no job evaluation was done, no D-2 psych evaluation was done -- no investigation, no nothing except three more, see ya.
This will bring me to TEN YEARS for a TECHNICAL PAROLE VIOLATION. Mr Cotten informed me the laws have changed and he can't just slide me out so I can do it on the street via a halfway house. That I would have to go before the full Board and the news media would be there, and every one (whomever "Every one" is).
So I went to my case worker and spoke with him about the transfer and the program, and he informed me, as always, that it will take a year if I'm lucky to get there, and then there is a three-to-five year waiting list...but he would fill out the form. It was shortly after this that I told him not to bother, that I have had enough of red tape and being held HOSTAGE due to a Program that the APA admits is not even lawful to force upon anyone and that the program being another 100 or more miles away from my folks actually creates a problem establishing "better community ties", which defies the second demand anyway. So as I see it, on one hand I am told by Mr Cotten that my crime is not that bad, that I've got more than enough time in, BUT I still had to try to get this program or I'm not getting out. I can't go to a halfway house or do home monitoring while in the program because...I'm not under the new law.
Yet...this is my reality, and this is why I have decided enough is enough. They say the new time of Three Flat does not apply to me, but the full Board and other items do. Same law, same bill, same same, except it is only being selectively applied to justify this lunacy. And, I might add, at considerable expense, as I'm not the one and only man this is happening to.
Well, I feel it is time to accept the fact that they are simply a political entity that is inflating the prison systen so that the governor can sell more prison contracts to his brother before he leaves office and can't. It has been busy for prison construction during his tenure, and while most folks forgot that he had to, by law, sign a release of holdings in the V group prior to taking office, it is well known that savings clauses on a buy-back option are common on such deals. And I would expect the stock prices of the V group have gone up pretty much due to all those construction projects being sent in by the governor's office.
I do plan on being cost efficient for the State and will not eat again as a prisoner. I do not wish to cause infection to any other person, staff or prisoner, so I am bringing to their attention that I have survived spinal meningitis, and as such, I carry the cell in my body, and when my immune system weakens enough, it may trigger a relapse due to the virus becoming stronger than the blood cells that hold it in check. I do not say this as a threat; it is simply as a precautionary warning because it is an airborn epidemic virus that is very quick and lethal.
I am at peace with my God and with my beliefs. Tyranny always begins with those most easily manipulated; however, if not checked it will eventually become inclusive of other groups.
The State keeps men and women longer, even four times longer as is my case, than the voters and the legislature had sought to implement with S.B.2. So instead of folowing it, the Board seeks to demonstrate it's needed by backing up the system, and while it does this in order to lend the appearance of racial balances, it simply keeps white convicts three or four times longer to create the illusion of racial parity within the system, when, in fact, it is a myth. (If not for this practice, the numbers clearly indicate that the prison system would lean heavlily towards being predominately all black.) This does not address the problem, and much like the avoidance of the schools, it does not change the cause-effect relationship at all. It only purposely masks it.
I am prepared for the outcome of my actions and will see this through to whatever end it comes to. I will not eat again until I am given parity of treatment as every other inmate in this position is. They can, and do, allow men to live in halfway houses when their time is IN, and do programming while there as a condition of parole. Yet in my case, because I'm outspoken in peaceful means, and promote equity to be applied, I can not go to one (halfway house) even when it is self-admittedly in the interest of rehabiliation and justice, and the tax payers.
This is why I starve myself -- so others may know what is going on with this system of "temporary laws", and the expenses of these "temporary legislations" (as judges call them) is being paid for by taxes people really can't even afford, while special interests are making money and climbing the ladder of politics so they can take advantage of situations even more so.
Well, if it is care they want to have, then I trust they will keep me alive during the next three years while I'm tied to a machine, because I WILL NOT EAT AGAIN WHILE BEING HELD PRISONER BY THE DR&C. This prolonged captivity of using excuses and reasoning that defies logic is simply not acceptable and people need to know about it.