Native American prisoner Jason Campbell on hunger strike at Ohio State Penitentiary (USA)
The following is a statement from Jason Campbell, an inmate in Ohio State Penitentiary where Lucasville uprising prisoners Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Bomani Shakur and Jason Robb recently won significant improvements in the terms of their confinement through a 12-day hunger strike and an international campaign of support. Campbell chose Feb. 27 to start his hunger strike because it is the 38th anniversary of the liberation of Wounded Knee by the American Indian Movement. Since he wrote this statement, the prison has moved him to segregration (the hole) and confiscated as contraband a necklace with religious significance that he had permission to have.
Thank you for your interest in my current plight. I am grateful that there is at least one voice still willing to speak up on behalf of those in my position.
Since my incarceration in 2003, I have diligently fought for the religious rights of incarcerated Native Americans in Ohio prisons. I feel – seeing that I have the ability, that it is my responsibility to insure that we have the same protections under the law that other faith based groups generally enjoy. Personally, I have requested everything I could think of, trying to get as much approved as I could – as I know it would set the tone for what others will be allowed in the future.
Basically, I am being prevented from practicing my Native beliefs in every way. I have requested and been denied all of the following: Tobacco, tobacco ties(twists), moccasins, feathers, beads (sewn into objects like a head band or medicine bag)), fur, animal hair (such as horse and buffalo), head band (of a color other than white – where beads are concerned), sacred objects (for Medicine Bag and Medicine Bundle), Native American flute, hand drum, rattle, access to sweat lodge (for purification), and to have a ‘Sun Dance’ ceremony.
I also have requested and have been approved for: A ‘prayer pipe’, Medicine Bag, and a Medicine Bundle, but I must point out that these are useless without: tobacco for the prayer pipe, and sacred objects for the Medicine Bag and Medicine Bundle. Without tobacco, I am unable to pray. Without sacred objects for the Medicine Bag and Medicine Bundle, they are just empty vessels – void of their purpose.
One last thing. My hunger strike is not considered “official” until after I refuse my ninth meal – which will be Wednesday, March 2nd, at breakfast. When I get to the ninth meal and refuse to come off of the hunger strike, I will be moved to the segregation block (the Hole). I’m told it is to prevent other prisoners from giving me food. In fact, I believe that it is to punish me into coming off of the hunger strike by putting me in a cell with no electricity. If you can find a way to address this as well, it would be much appreciated.
I hope – fervently, that this information can help you in assisting me – and through me, all other Native Americans in Ohio prisons. Present and future. Thank you again for your help. – “Mitakuye Oyasin” (to all my relations)
Please express your thoughts about this situation to:
Governor John Kasich,
77 South High St.,
Tel: (USA) 614-466-3555,
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction,
770 West Broad St.,
Tel: (USA) 614-752-1164,
Ohio State Penitentiary,
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd.,
Tel: (USA) 330-743-0700 or fax 330-743-0841 or email JoAnn.King@odrc.state.oh.us
Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network