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Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising, 2nd ed.
By Staughton Lynd
tells the story of one of the
longest prison uprisings in United States history. At the maximum
security Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio,
prisoners seized a major area of the prison on Easter Sunday, 1993.
More than 400 prisoners held L block for eleven days. Nine prisoners
alleged to have been informants, or "snitches," and one hostage
correctional officer, were murdered. There was a negotiated surrender.
Thereafter, almost wholly on the basis of testimony by prisoner
informants who received deals in exchange, five spokespersons or
leaders were tried and sentenced to death, and more than a dozen others
received long sentences.
Lucasville examines both the causes of the disturbance, what
happened during the eleven days, and the fairness of the trials.
Particular emphasis is placed on the inter-racial character of the
action, as evidenced in the slogans that were found painted on walls
after the surrender: "Black and White Together," "Convict Unity," and
An eloquent Foreword by Mumia Abu-Jamal underlines these themes. He
states, as does the book, that the men later sentenced to death "sought
to minimize violence, and indeed, according to substantial evidence,
saved the lives of several men, prisoner and guard alike." Of the five
men, three black and two white, who were sentenced to death, Mumia
declares: "They rose above their status as prisoners, and became, for a
few days in April 1993, what rebels in Attica had demanded a generation
before them: men. As such, they did not betray each other; they did not
dishonor each other; they reached beyond their prison "tribes" to reach
"Mr. Lynd is a masterful storyteller and he has
a hell of a story to tell. [He] has written a definitive history of one
of the longest prison riots in U.S. history and its aftermath. That
alone is worth the price of admission... What makes the book unique in
the historical sense is the remarkable range of primary and secondary
sources; Lynd writes with a lawyer’s pen but a poet’s ear... This book
is a reminder that prisoners—even death row prisoners—are human beings,
too. Lucasville is a resounding affirmation of our common humanity."
--Michael Mello, author of The Wrong Man: A True Story of Innocence on Death Row
"There is a temperature at which the welder’s
torch becomes so hot and burns with such purity that its flame is no
longer yellow, orange, or red, but burns blue. Then it is capable of
cutting through steel. Staughton Lynd wields the blue flame of truth,
cutting through the lies, threats, evasions, and misrepresentations of
the authorities of the state of Ohio."
--Professor Peter Linebaugh, Department of History, University of Toledo; author of The London Hanged and co-author of The Many-Headed Hydra
"Lucasville is one of the most powerful indictments of our
’justice system’ I have ever read. What comes across is a litany of
flaws deep in the system, and recognizably not unique to Lucasville.
The detailed transcripts (yes, oral history!) give great power to the
--Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States
"Of interest to anyone who follows prison politics or the often enigmatic workings of the justice system."