The letters call for closer contact with visitors and in general, better treatment. A prison official met with protesters and accepted the packet in behalf of Warden Marc Houk, who wasn’t working Saturday.
In what is becoming an annual event to oppose Ohio’s death penalty, the family members, the Lucasville Five Defense Committee out of Cleveland and other prisoner-advocacy groups openly protested executions and prisoner treatment in general inside the walls of the facility that now houses most of the death row inmates.
Local attorney and author Staughton Lynd, who is still fighting for prisoner rights and contact prisoner visits in his lawsuit that has been to the U.S. Supreme Court and now back in northern Ohio Federal District Court, spoke to the gathering at a brief news conference that preceded the protest.
‘‘Here in Ohio, we consider ourselves among the enlightened. But we don’t have the contact that we see in places like Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia and Tennessee. We allow one visit right before execution,’’ Lynd said.
Lynd also has written a book about the 1993 deadly prison riots at Lucasville Correctional Institution.
‘‘The last time I had a chance to hug him, we smoked a cigarette together. And then they killed him,’’ said Marquita Dennis of Akron, whose son Adremy Dennis was executed Oct. 13, 2004, after nearly 10 years on death row.
Dennis was convicted of the killing of a Barberton Speedway race car driver Kurt Kyle in June of 1994, when Kyle walked a visitor from his home to his car.
Saadiqah Hasan reminded supporters of a ‘‘State of emergency Summit’’ Feb. 1-2 at Cleveland State and reminded of the Web site that features her husband, Siddique Hasan, death row inmate and one of the Lucasville Five convicted of murder during the riots.
‘‘Giving up is not an option here. This is similar to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King .... some of the same principles he fought for,’’ said Hasan.
Meanwhile outside the press conference at a downtown church, A.J. Frame and his buddies held signs opposing the protesters.
‘‘I believe in an eye for an eye,’’ said Frame, of Noble County. His sign said simply: ‘‘I’m here for justice, not injustice.’’
‘‘I read about this on a Web site and decided we needed to be here. It’s not right what happened at Lucasville. Those inmates that murdered weren’t in that prison for parking tickets, right?
‘‘We got a system and we need to follow it,’’ Frame said.
Frame’s friend, Jerry Ostrowski, identified himself as a prison employee at Lucasville.
‘‘These people are calling for closer contact with their visits and not even realizing they might be signing their own death warrant. It’s nothing more than a loosening of security. They could be taken hostage, just like what happened in ’93,’’ Ostrowski said.
Theresa Lyons, left, of Ashtabula, the grandmother of a death row inmate, delivers a package of letters Saturday from other inmates to Keith Fletcher of the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown. For more photos, see cu.tribune-chronicle.com