by BRIAN SONENSTEIN
Ohio prison officials wrote a conduct report for Siddique Abdullah Hasan in connection to his appearance in an episode for the Netflix series, “Captive.” In the episode, he discussed the 1993 prison rebellion known as the Lucasville Uprising.
The conduct report accuses Hasan of making an “unauthorized release of JPay videos” to Minna Sedmakov, a producer for the show. It claims she paid Hasan 20 dollars on two separate occasions for the videos, which were not reviewed by prison officials before their release.
In October 2016, Hasan was punished with 60 days of phone and email restrictions for participating in an interview on NPR. The month before, prison officials restricted his phone and email use for 30 days after they claimed he told a staff imam to wear a bomb to the prison as the national labor strike began on September 9.
No restrictions have been imposed on Hasan yet, but his hearing has been pushed back multiple times.
“The producers used the standard, established procedures for contacting inmates in U.S. prisons, explained to Mr. Hasan what the project was and what the interview would be used for, and obtained his consent,” read a statement from the episode’s producers. Netflix did not respond to requests for comment.
Hasan points out that prison authorities approved Sedmakov’s visitation application as well as her request for a video visitation, so they must have known who she was and why she was in touch with him.
“Minna is on my visiting list and gave me the money as a gift,” Hasan told Shadowproof. “I have never dealt in a ‘business transaction’ as a result of telling my story and/or talking about the Lucasville Uprising.”
He joked that Minna had only given him 40 dollars, so if this was really about getting paid, he would have demanded a lot more.
But he maintains he has never sought compensation for speaking about his case. “I speak on college campuses all the time. I speak on radio programs. I talk to various different journalists, reporters, and I’ve never asked them for any monetary compensation. In fact, I use my own money to [make] my own phone calls.”
Hasan will have an opportunity to call witnesses to his hearing. He has requested Sedmakov testify about the money she gave him.
He also plans to call the chief inspector, who works for the prison system’s central office, as a witness. The chief inspector is the man who wrote the conduct report, and he also occupies a role in the appeal process that could create a conflict of interest should Hasan contest the eventual ruling.
“His friends and colleagues, they’re not going to reverse his decision,” Hasan maintained.
Regardless, these restrictions are unlikely to deter Hasan from attempting to speak out about Lucasville and other issues facing incarcerated people. Along with journalists and other prominent members of the Lucasville Uprising, Hasan is part of a lawsuit against Ohio prison officials for denying them access to media for in-person interviews.
“They don’t mind people in law enforcement telling their side of the story, but when it comes to us, they don’t want to let us tell our story,” he said.
“Like I tell people, I’m on Death Row. I’m no coward. My life hangs in the balance and I don’t take orders like that from my captors. I’m going to speak to whom the hell I want to speak to about my case. I have that right. I know it, my attorney knows it. I guess they’re going to have to always put me on restriction because I will never stop talking about my case,” he said.
“I’m not going to lay back and allow you to take me to the gurney peacefully. Whatever they plan on doing to me, whether it’s phone restriction, kiosk restriction, or both, isolation, whatever you do to me, that’s small in comparison to my life.”
“And as long as the words in my mouth have power, I’m gonna continue to speak about my case or any injustice that I see going on in the prison system.”
Hasan also pointed out the visitations took place in April and May. The conduct report said the Chief Inspector’s Office found out about the video on December 21, weeks after the Lucasville episode of Captive was released. After that, officials waited almost 2 more months to write a conduct report.
The hour-long episode explains that the prison was one of most violent places in the state in the early 1990s, shrouded in numerous deaths, fights, and stabbings. The facility was overcrowded, forcing two prisoners to live in a cell built for one. Prisoners had virtually no security or protection from officers and were continuously vulnerable to violence.
The warden at the time curtailed programs and other opportunities for prisoners and instituted new rules that meted out harsh punishment for small infractions.
Prisoners clashed with the administration more and more until the situation reached its last straw when the warden proclaimed all prisoners would be forced to take a tuberculosis skin test that involved injecting phenol, an alcoholic substance, under the skin.
Muslim prisoners, including Hasan, objected to this test because it violated their religious prohibition on alcohol. The warden vowed to force the prisoners to get the injections in their cells.
On Easter Sunday, guards were taken hostage as prisoners rose up in a rebellion that lasted eleven days and ended the lives of nine prisoners and a correction officer.
The episode explains that throughout the uprising the press was denied access to the prisoners and was not provided with their demands, which distorted coverage of the event.
Hasan, who is a Muslim spiritual leader, helped resolve the uprising, working alongside the Aryan Brotherhood and the Black Gangster Disciples But with only one year to go before parole, he was targeted for prosecution and pegged as one of the leaders of the rebellion responsible for the deaths of the prisoners and correction officer. He was convicted and sentenced to death.