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Monday, June 4, 2012

Ohio Super Max Prisoner Resumes Hunger Strike

Sunday June 3rd, 2012, Youngstown- Last week Cornelius Harris, a level 5 prisoner at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) resumed the May Day hunger strike, in protest of the warden's slow response to the prisoner's demands. It is unknown when Mr. Harris began refusing food, how many consecutive meals he has refused, and whether or not other prisoners have joined Mr. Harris's hunger strike. OSP's warden, David Bobby refused to comment or make any statement about Mr. Harris's situation or condition, including how many meals he has refused. 

UPDATE: Cornelius Harris is off hunger strike after at least 17 days and 49 meals. 

Mr. Harris says that Warden Bobby has "found a way to twist this hunger strike around to his favor by asking for more funding for programs and material that a level 5 prisoner will never see". Mr. Harris issued the following list of grievances. 

- Warden Bobby has failed to keep his promise to address outrageously high commissary prices.  
- Lack of recreational material like exercise or sporting equipment, even though there is money in an "I+E" fund earmarked for these materials.
- Low quality and lack of variety in television and movie programming. 
- Phone calls, level 5 prisoners are demanding weekly phone calls to home, rather than monthly.
- handcuffs on visits, prisoners are required to wear handcuffs in front of visiting loved ones, even though they are separated by bullet proof booths. 

Up to 45 prisoners participated in a week long hunger strike from Monday April 30 to Monday May 7th, in solidarity with the international worker's holiday, May Day. According to Mr. Harris, Warden Bobby has "breach[ed his] commitment" to the issues discussed at the end of this hunger strike, so he has resumed striking and vows "not to come off until everything pertaining to our issues are addressed and resolved." Another prisoner, who knows Mr Harris has stated that he's a very serious man, and will "most likely be on this hunger strike for weeks". A full statement by Mr Harris can be found at ( 

The May Day hunger strike was the 2nd mass hunger strike at OSP this year. Dozens of prisoners at Red Onion State Prison, Virginia's super max prison are also currently on a hunger strike that started May 22nd. Last year thousands of prisoners in California's SHU and super max prisons went on a series of hunger strikes protesting their conditions and the gang debriefing process used by CDCR. There are an estimated 20 to 25 thousand prisoners held in super max prisons across the us. These prisons confine people for up to 23 hours a day in single cells the size of the average bathroom, often for years on end.

Supporters of Mr. Harris can write him letters at the following address: 
Cornelius Harris 525-945
Ohio State Penitentiary 
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd
Youngstown, OH 44505

People can also call, email or write the Warden at the following addresses:
Warden David Bobby
Ohio State Penitentiary
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd
Youngstown, OH 44505
(330) 743-0700 ext. 2006

1 comment:

  1. You can express your opinion,even though I called today and was told there is no hunger strike currently,regardless of who is hunger striking or not there needs to be higher standards of humane conditions!


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