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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Call in Day for Soja

Thursday and Friday March 7th and 8th are call-in days for Soja, who is back on hunger strike.

Cornelius "Soja" Harris (prisoner reg number 525-945) has refused all food on 78 out of the last 83 days. He suspended his initial 38 day hunger strike for 5 days in mid February. When he came off the first strike, $300 worth of property had been stolen or destroyed from his cell. Warden David Bobby said he would make sure all the property was returned or replaced. Five days later, on February 20th, his property was still not returned, and Soja resumed his hunger strike. Warden Bobby refuses to discuss Mr Harris' situation with supporters.

Soja is demanding inspectors from central office come to interview him at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP). He is asking supporters to call Central Office at 614-752-1159 and request that they send someone to OSP to do this interview.

Staff at OSP have resumed harassment of Soja since he returned from trial. Officers Austin, Burns and Kishh have threatened to destroy more of Soja's property while he was on a visit. Thanks in part to supporter phone calls, these COs were properly supervised, and while they did toss Soja's cell, they didn't destroy any of his property. They did bring him down an hour late for his visit, and intentionally put him in a booth with a broken light and dirty glass so his visitor could hardly see him. Supporters are als encouraged to call OSP and ask Warden Bobby why his staff is allowed to engage in this campaign of targeted harassment. The number there is 330-743-0700.

In the midst of January's hunger strike, Mr Harris went to court on multiple criminal charges, including aggravated attempted murder, stemming from incidents of fights with prison staff. The jury found him not guilty of the more serious offenses, and only convicted him of assault and weapons possession, which he admitted to committing, out of self defense. The jury beleived the incidents were initiated by prison staff, and did not believe the guards and prison officials the prosecution put on the stand. In spite of these factors, the judge sentenced Mr Harris to thirty-two years, nearly the maximum possible sentence.

Mr Harris wrote the following statement to supporters via institutional email on March 5th: "It's been thumbs down on me since the conclusion of my trial. These cowards are not satisfied with the fact that I received an extra 32 years on my sentence, they're not satisfied until they have crushed you to dust and blew you away. They want you crawling on your knees, weak and broken, they don't want you standing strong, head up with no fear. They only plan is to control and punish, they never intend to compromise, violence is the only language they understand." He has also sent a longer statement via regular mail, which will be forthcoming. 

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