It’s time to step up!

Date: May 18, 2022
Time: 11:36 pm
Location: Toledo Korrectional Institution

Just posting something for the people that really wants to help me with my freedom campaign,et cetera. Although I am definitely an optimistic person, I’ve taken issue with all of these so-called “criminal justice reform” organizations and activists in Ohio who aren’t doing nothing to try and get the old-law sentencing disparity fixed.

For years and years I’ve written letter after letter to various people in Ohio, only to have them sell me a dream about something they’re working on, or just outright lie to me about helping me. These people aren’t doing jack shit to fight against the system! They don’t even put out regular newsletters to keep prisoners updated. We just sit in here hoping that something materializes for us. But, what we really need is comprehensive and energetic organizations of people who are down to fight! I can’t even get anyone to consistently promote my various freedom fighting projects. I call people all the time, too, only to have them not do anything that they just agreed to do.

With this said, though, I just want to ask for people to support my latest interview project, “216 TO MARCY:A PRISONER’S PLEA TO JAY Z,” which is an audio interview album describing my horrific experience as an Ohio old-law prisoner. In the interview, I made it very clear that I was set-up over the years by various prison officials, some whom have worked as wardens and went on to become parole board members. I also express how my documentary, “INVISIBLE CHESS:The Jason Goudlock Story,” never received the proper promoting of the film. People just released the documentary and left it up to chance for the film to become visible to the general public. As a result of this, however, my documentary has not been viewed by a bunch of people, and DRC and the Ohio Parole Board has simply just ignored it and swept it under the rug, hoping that it never gets to see the light of day.

In 216 TO MARCY, I specifically make an appeal to Brooklyn,NY rapper Jay Z, asking him to watch and support my film. I reached out to him due to his ongoing activism against the racist U.S. criminal justice system, as well as due to his past involvement in the producing of the documentary film about the tragic suicide of wrongfully convicted New York citizen Khalief Browder. I also reached out to other influential voices, such as Kim Kardashian and Prof. Michelle Alexander.

Flat out: I’m trying to get people to help me spread the word about my film and interview. So, with this being said, I’m asking all people interested in real justice to please promote, post, and share the various info and links about 216 TO MARCY:A PRISONER’S PLEA TO JAY Z on your various social media platform(s).

It’s 2022 and we cannot allow the egregious old-law injustice to continue to exist! As a first-time offender, I’ve been imprisoned for nearly THIRTY consecutive years, which is some fucking bullshit!

I’m about to wrap this posting up. But, your contribution in this outreach endeavor will be greatly, greatly appreciated. And, please, feel free to write to me. But, only if you are 100% serious about fighting for real justice! This time is starting to really get to me, so I only wish to correspond with people who are down to truly fight for a just cause.

In The Struggle,

P.S. Here are a few additional suggestions of other people to contact:
(1) Various Hip-Hop music websites;(2)Commercial and Internet radio
stations; (3) Sports News websites[because of my TMZ connection to WNBA player Brittnety Griner,and LeBron James]; (4) Morning Radio
Shows,such as The Breakfast Club and The Rickey Smiley Morning Show; (5) Facebook and Instagram “Groups” pertaining to any of the above; (6) The fan bases of any influential activists; (7) and Tik Tok
…Also,please ask journalists to write a story about my ordeal and agenda! And,also reach out to other documentary filmmakers who’ve
made documentaries about the U.S criminal justice system.


Date: Wednesday,February 9,2022
Time: 4:06 p.m.
Location: Toledo Correctional Institution

I want to apologize for not keeping this blog updated, but I have truly been going through a bunch of things mentally, related directly to my current state of over-incarceration. I guess it just takes time for depression to run its course. Then the depression made me mad; so I just had to get re-calibrated all around the board.

I do have some very positive developments to report, though: I gained the incredible support of Shelby and Cody Barnum, as well as the support of their young ones, all whom drew me some amazing pictures that touched my soul and made me feel human!

The Barnum’s, who reside in Washington state, became aware of my situation of injustice by way of reading this blog. They are the founders of the company Roaming Rebels, which is a company that focuses on social justice issues for disadvantaged citizens, such as myself. They are committed to helping me gain my freedom, as well as committed to helping me realize some of my post incarceration goals, such as becoming a motivational speaker.

They’re going to be conducting an interview for me, soon, related to my fundraiser campaign. The interview is going to be attached to an audio uploaded version of my documentary, which will be made available for purchase to the general public, via various streaming platforms. They are committed to getting my story told, as well as stopping the overall unjust practices that are taking place within the Ohio Parole Board. They are also going to be getting some very influential people involved to help me from the cable station FX, which is very encouraging to me!

Besides my freedom, all I ever wanted was to have some “hope,” and the Barnum’s have definitely provided me with this. Even if the Parole Board refuses to do the right thing, at least I know the world is going to know what’s going on in the so-called heartland state of the United States. Nobody is going to be able to hide the egregious injustice that me and thousands of others are being subjected to. The U.S. talks daily about making all kinds of reforms to its broken criminal justice system, yet in Ohio it’s just business as usual. If people are serious about bettering the world, then they need to step up to the plate and make it happen! Talk is cheap, and its discouraging when it never amounts to anything.

At this present time, I truly believe that change can come about. I know that there are proponents and opponents for criminal justice reform. But, right is right! If a person, such as myself, is clearly being over-incarcerated, then this has to be fixed. People can’t be being held in captivity. This won’t do nothing but make people worse off, bitter, and mad. People need to have real hope. I mean, in here, we’re not stupid, and we know what’s real and what’s fake. Like with myself, when I know for a fact that someone is faking, I don’t pay anything they’re talking about any attention. And that’s because I know they’re faking.

I did wrong, and I want people to forgive me, so I have to be willing to forgive people, too.

As a man, there is no way that I can trick myself into believing in something that’s bullshit. But, overall, I’m ready to be positive and productive in society. At times, I’ve been pissed about things related to my injustice and refused to let it go. And although I’m not ready to just let things fall at the wayside, I am ready — to an extent– to forgive certain people, that is, as long as they are willing to move forward past their wrongdoings. I mean, although I didn’t commit all of my crimes, I did do most of them. So, I’m not in here for missing Sunday school. I did wrong, and I want people to forgive me, so I have to be willing to forgive people, too. I just want people to own up to their wrongdoing, and be real. No matter how you look at it, there is no way that I should’ve been
in prison this long. I’ve suffered enough, and I’m ready to be productive.

Torturing me isn’t going to benefit anyone.

Currently there are legislative efforts being pushed by various advocacy organizations to reform some of Ohio’s outdated sentencing
laws. EPIC (Ensuring Parole for Incarcerated Citizens) and Change Starts With Us, are both working on introducing legislative bills. I am not exactly sure of what the bills fully consist of, but I do know that they are calling for Parole Board oversight, as well as fixing the sentencing disparity between the old-law and the new-law prisoners (i.e. Senate Bill 2;Jul. 1,1996), as well as placing caps on the lengths of some sentences designated as “life.”

In my upcoming interview, I’m going to ask the listeners to support the reform efforts of the two aforementioned organizations,as well as others such as Understand Before You Judge (UBYJ). But, the only way things are going to ever change is if prisoners, their friends and families, and concerned citizens, demand change! We have to put the work in if we want justice. So, I’m asking people reading this blog to support what’s going on. Make phone calls and send emails to find out how you can help, because nothing is going to just magically get done on its own.

The same way people in the past organized and brought about change is the same way it’s going to get done today! So, if you want your loved one to be given a second chance one day, then you have to become active and support the people who are already on the front lines. We have to unite. And we have to put all of our differences aside, and control our egos! Otherwise, nothing is going to get accomplished, which, in turn, only further keeps the over incarcerated held captive longer.

We need hope!

A suggestion that I have is for all advocacy groups in Ohio to schedule regular Zoom conferences to discuss various issues. They should also provide updates via social media and snail-mail letters. Prisoners need to know and see what’s going on. This is helpful with lifting up one’s morale. We need hope! Professor Angela A. Allen-Bell, who teaches law at Southern University Law Center in Louisiana, has also taken interest in Ohio’s old-law injustice. She isn’t able to represent me or the old-law class of prisoners, but she has used my injustice in two of her law classes, and her presence will only serve to help with furthering the agenda of justice. I was able to connect with her, though, by way of mailing colleges a large volume of flyers about my documentary. I suggest that others take the initiative and launch similar outreach campaigns. If we aren’t proactive with our advocacy efforts, nobody is going to ever become supportive of our agenda at hand, which is why I’m constantly making appeals to the media and celeb-activists, such as Jay Z and Kim Kardashian.

That I know of, I only have one life to live, so I’m going to do whatever I can in this cell to get my freedom!

Simply put, though, I want my freedom! And if I have to make large appeals to people to attain my freedom, then so be it. If talking about the media’s coverage of a story (about a comment I made about LeBron James) gets me the attention I’m seeking to raise the public’s awareness about my injustice, then so be it — I will be talking about it! That I know of, I only have one life to live, so I’m going to do whatever I can in this cell to get my freedom!

I can’t just sit back and leave my fate to chance — that is, not when I could be doing something. Some people actually think I’m crazy because I have the audacity to fight for my justice! But, just know that I’m not seeking fame. I’m just an ambitious and intelligent person that wants
his freedom.

Nowhere on my birth certificate does it say that the state of Ohio owns me. Therefore, I am going to fight for what is right, and I ask that you please assist me in my efforts. As mentioned above, a fundraising effort for my freedom campaign (and others) is currently being organized. I am going to be seeking to hire legal representation to advocate for my freedom and other old-law prisoners, such as Delanio Wright, who is also featured in the INVISIBLE CHESS:The Jason Goudlock Story documentary. And I’m also going to be seeking to hire an attorney to investigate my actual innocence claims (because I absolutely did not rob the donut shop or Subway sandwich shop that I was convicted of robbing).

In addition to this, I am also going to be seeking to further publicize and promote my slept-on documentary. I actually want to put billboards up for the film all over. When people want to be seen, they put up billboards in Times Square New York, and my situation is no different. I intend, though, to put up billboards in Times Square New York, Cleveland, Columbus, and a bunch of other places. I’m also going to be, soon, enlisting the support of various influential celebrities.

But, for my freedom campaign to be successful, I am going to surely need your support, especially in the social media sphere, where I have made some very significant gains in the past few months. One of my videos, so far, has generated over 70,000 views on TikTok. I firmly believe that I can accomplish everything that I’m seeking to do, but strength is in numbers, so join the cause and support on your social media, and let’s push the views of my film into the MILLIONS!!!! I’m going to conclude this post, but I will be keeping you updated in the near future. Things are about to get real interesting, though…

Postscript: The Barnums are also helping me release a revised, polished version of my novel, Brother of The Struggle, which I am determined to to turn into a bestseller to show to the Ohio Parole Board. I intend to also turn the book into a movie. So, be on the lookout for it, because it’s coming soon!

Kevin Cooper

See Kevin’s website and the Wikipedia article for lots of information about the case. You can also follow him on his Facebook Page.

Kevin Cooper was convicted of the 1983 murders of the Ryen family and a houseguest in Chino Hills California, a city in the southwest corner of San Bernardino County.

What came to be known as the Chino Hills Murders were exceptionally vicious and brutal: 4 people murdered using a hatchet, a knife, and an icepick. They sustained 140 wounds, 28 fractures, 2 severed fingers. There was 1 surviving victim, left for dead.

The horrific nature of the murders risked putting the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department under close scrutiny by the local community and national media.

This scrutiny risked exposing corruption within.

Discovering that Kevin Cooper had been in close proximity to the crime scene after escaping from a nearby minimum security prison, Sheriff Floyd Tidwell deceived the media and local community by announcing there was solid evidence connecting him with the murders. This was not true.

With this announcement, just four days after the murders, he successfully shifted the attention to the California Institution of Men prison, which was already embroiled in controversy.

Kevin Cooper (born January 8, 1958)[1] is an American mass murderer currently on death row at San Quentin Prison.[2] Cooper was convicted of four murders which he committed in the Chino Hills area of California in 1983. Cooper was accused of the kidnap and rape of an underage female in Pennsylvania during a burglary attempt; and was accused of rape by a second woman in California.[3] Since his arrest, Cooper, who is African American, has become active in writing letters from prison asserting his innocence, alleging racism in the American criminal justice system, and opposing the death penalty.[4]

Cooper’s habeas corpus petitions have been denied. The evidence in the case of the original trial has been reviewed by the California Supreme Court, by the United States District Court and by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 2007, two judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit wrote that “As the district court and all state courts, have repeatedly found, evidence of Cooper’s guilt was overwhelming. The tests for which he asked to show his innocence ‘once and for all’ show nothing of the sort.”[5] In a concurring opinion, however, Judge Margaret McKeown said she was troubled that the court could not resolve the question of Cooper’s guilt “once and for all” and noted that significant evidence bearing on Cooper’s culpability has been lost, destroyed or left unpursued.[5]

In a dissenting opinion, written in 2009, Judge William A. Fletcher began by stating: “The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man.”[6] Fletcher wrote that the police may have tampered with the evidence and that the Ninth Circuit Court should have reheard the case en banc and should have “ordered the district judge to give Cooper the fair hearing he has never had.” Five judges joined in Fletcher’s dissent and five more stated that Cooper has never had a fair hearing to determine his innocence.[6]


See Kevin’s website and the Wikipedia article for lots of information about the case. You can also follow him on his Facebook Page.

Help Jason and Get Kevin “Rashid” Johnson Transferred

I almost didn’t write this post, because I don’t really feel that I’m being supported by anyone. Nobody contacts me, or speaks out against the corrupt prison system. If I was to go on a Nat Turner rampage, though, I’m sure there would be thousands of people with something to say then. I just wish people would speak-up, and make some damn noise! I don’t understand how people that talk all of this “justice and equality” talk can just be quiet and act like they don’t know I’m being tortured! I got evidence of all of the bullshit that ODRC and the Parole Board has done to me, and yet, here it is I’ve been in here almost 30 years.

A damn movie is out about this bullshit, and people still ain’t supporting it or me. This is the reason why this crooked-ass system does what it wants; nobody holds them accountable.

Marc “Motorcycle” Houk, the same lying piece of shit in my film, was allowed — after getting busted trying to frame me — to become a warden, again, thanks to a blanket of complicit silence. I just seen in the USA Today, a few weeks ago, some crooked-ass correction officers at Houk’s prison [Chillicothe Correctional Institution] went undisciplined after beating and paralyzing a handcuffed prisoner! The officers actually even bragged about their Houk-like behavior on social media! But, I bet nothing has been done to their boss, Marc Houk.

All of these people that look the other way at the crooked bullshit he and Michael Jenkins did to me — Michael Jenkins is the Inspector at the prison I’m currently in — they should feel a little responsible for the man who was beaten and paralyzed. But, hey, the way this country runs, Marc Houk will probably run for the presidency in 2024, and Jenkins will be his running mate! But, if he does run, I assure you that flyers for my documentary will be circulated more than U.S. currency!

Besides being a modern-day slave, though, I’m in the early stages of revising my book, Brother of the Struggle. It needs to be improved, redesigned, and released again. I need someone to help me secure a one-stop small company that can fix the book and then help me secure an inexpensive distributor. So, if anyone wants to help me help myself, please get in contact with me as soon as possible.

Speaking of my book, one of the typos in it is for a website for revolutionary prisoner Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, who was recently moved to the notorious Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF), also known as Lucasville. Rahid is currently being harassed and retaliated against for his well renowned writing, drawing, and overall activism against injustice (see his website), and he needs people to call and leave a message with Governor DeWine asking that Rashid be transferred out of SOCF immediately!

As reported in the most recent edition of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper (by freedom fighter Jalil Muntaqim), Rashid’s life is in danger! So, please, take action now!

Contact Ohio Governor DeWine

Well, this is it for me. I hope somebody will take action on my behalf too, because I’m tired of being tortured by the “old-law”, ODRC, and the Ohio Parole Board.

You can contact Rashid by mail:

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, #A787991
PO Box 45699
Lucasville, OH 45699-0001

Panther Vision
Defying the Tomb

Plea For Clemency

Date: July 05, 2021
Time: 2:36 p.m. EST
Location: Toledo Correctional Institution

The most corrupt parole board in the U.S. just issued a unanimous vote against granting me clemency. The final say, however, is still up to Governor DeWine.

The parole board cited “the nature of my crimes,” and my so-called “deplorable prison record” as their reason for voting against me. The nature of my crimes, however, will never change (which, by the way, were a nature no more severe than any other person’s crimes), because I can’t go back in time. And me having a so-called deplorable record is just as much their fault as it is mine, especially when they ignore the fact that their own members have been busted for filing false criminal charges against me.

Furthermore, I can’t stop getting “refuse to lock” conduct reports — that is, when I’m constantly being threatened by a bunch of coward gang members … Right now, I’m in the hole because I got word that I was about to get stabbed by some hired flunkies! I’d recently exposed the fact that in 2012, I shoved a gang leader who was causing me problems. In turn, the coward tried to have me stabbed, which resulted in me having to “refuse to lock” in a general population cell.

The Ohio Parole Board doesn’t care about my safety, nor my unjust situation. All they care about is keeping me enslaved in their old-law sentencing scheme. Stevie Wonder could see that my situation is unjust, yet nobody in Ohio’s prison system is saying a word about it.

After former warden and parole board member Marc Houk was caught trying to frame me, he was allowed to be a warden again. One of his co-conspirators in the attempted frame job, a correction officer named Michael Jenkins is, amazingly, now the “institution inspector” at the Toledo Correctional Institution, the prison I’m currently in! In spite of Jenkins getting busted, however, he was given an even greater position of authority to abuse!

Marc Houk:
Professional Set-up Artist

Today, due to the complicit silence of legislative committees like the Ohio’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) — I’ve contacted them several times about Jenkins and Marc Houk — corrupt prison systems are being allowed to thrive and oppress confined citizens, as well as the families of confined citizens, many whom are poor people of color.

Unless people speak up, America’s new system of slavery is going to always be around. People can pretend that things are better, but as long as they allow crooked individuals, such as the crooked sellout Michael Jenkins, to be employed in positions of authority, nothing is going to change … ever.


In closing, I ask that everybody reading this please send a letter to Governor DeWine and ask him to grant my application for clemency. As a first-time offender, I’ve now served almost nine years over the maximum new-law sentence. 28 consecutive years is more than enough. John Hinkley served less time for attempting to kill President Ronald Regan. George Floyd’s murderer will serve even less (14 years, are you serious!).


Click here to contact Governor DeWine

Postscript: Please support the criminal justice reform efforts of Ensuring Parole for Incarcerated Citizens (EPIC)! They’re getting things accomplished on behalf of deserving-of-a-parole old and new-law prisoners. Learn more about EPIC and their legislative efforts at their website here:

Nobody Does Nothing

Date: Monday, April 19, 2021
Time: 9:21 a.m.
Location: Toledo Correctional Institution

I haven’t posted anything on this blog for a minute because nobody pays attention to my injustice. Nobody does nothing. The Parole Board recently held an open forum Zoom conference, and not a single person attended on my behalf! I’ve been beaten by crooked officers; set up by former wardens and Parole Board members, yet nobody attended the Zoom conference?

So, I haven’t been motivated to do anything. All of these people say they want to fix the criminal justice system,yet they don’t do anything when you need them.

And I can’t get anything done because I’m flat broke. Nobody donates anything. I don’t even have a TV,and haven’t had one since mine broke over six months ago. So, I’m sitting in a cell with nothing right now. I have one bar of used soap. An almost empty tube of toothpaste. And absolutely no food. Now, of course, I’ve asked supporters to help me, but they flat-out told me they aren’t sending me anything, although I did get some help a few week ago.

So,to be honest, I’m really mad as hell! But, I decided to post this because I’m not ashamed. I want people to see how fucked up this racist system is. And I want people to see how people act like they care about your situation, but will really leave you for dead. And, then, they expect you to be sitting in here with a smile on your face, like a conditioned robotic slave!

Everyday, this crooked system piles layer after layer of inhumane bullshit on me–and they think that it’s okay to do this! Nobody says a word about it, either! They think this shit is normal! And they think I’m supposed to endure this bullshit! Well, just know that everyone who sits back and does nothing is complicit in keeping me in here.

Just like the fake-ass Ohio Wrongful Conviction Project that refused to help me–that is, after they pretended they would for over THREE YEARS! All this screaming that Black lives matter–well, it doesn’t mean nothing to an Ohio prisoner. And that’s because people don’t really care.

How can a person have a film that consists of clear evidence of injustice, and yet, this person still can’t be given a fair shake? It doesn’t matter if it’s Rodney King, George Floyd, or Jason Goudlock–you can’t get any justice in this country if you’re Black. And, until people really decide to do something about it–it’s going to stay this way! People can lie to themselves all day long, but situations like my injustice proves everything.

Today, I’m sitting in prison for a robbery spree I didn’t do in 1993, although I definitely did commit other robberies. Nearly 30 years in, and here it is the Ohio Parole Board feels it’s okay for me to be in here! They know about my documentary, as does the African-American DRC Director, Annette Chambers-Smith, yet they feel that it is okay to keep me in a cage! They know about everything, but they know they don’t have to do anything because nobody is demanding that they do anything! DRC held an open forum, which could have been attended by anyone. But, since nobody is willing to make any noise about me, they get to get away with enslaving me.

I don’t even have anything else to say, honestly, other than don’t pretend to do anything for me if/you aren’t going to fight for me. I don’t need to be told “good luck,” or be sent a bullshit form letter by some hypocritical organization. I need somebody to aggressively circulate my film on the Internet, and to demand that I, along with others in my situation, be freed!

The Parole Board has let out murderers, child molesters, and repeat offenders–none which I am–yet, they refuse to do the right thing and free me.

It’s 2021. I was arrested in 1993, under a set of sentencing guidelines that were later replaced in 1996, with significantly less punitive ones. I’ve been thoroughly abused and punished by the system, which is proven in my documentary. So, why am I still in prison? This is bullshit! Black, White, Democrat or Republican–this is bullshit!!! I haven’t caught any extra time since being in prison. I’ve never been granted any type of parole, or even conditional release. And, I’ve taken numerous programs, and written a book!


Isolated Amidst Illness: Article

The following was recently published here: Isolated Amidst Illness (

Download a copy of the article.

Isolated Amidst Illness: Pandemic Responses in Ohio Correctional Facilities

In June, Ohio saw two of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the nation, both of which were in prisons. Through conversations with inmates in the Toledo Correctional Institution as well as professionals in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, Midstory takes a look at what life looks like in some of Ohio’s carceral facilities during the pandemic.

By Marissa Michaels and Remy Reya -2020-08-13

Jason Goudlock is used to being alone. Much of his 27 years in prison has been spent in solitary confinement, oftentimes voluntarily in order to avoid conflict with other inmates.

But new policies brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have left Goudlock and other inmates at the Toledo Correctional Institution (ToCI) feeling an acute sense of loneliness. “[E]ven the strongest person doesn’t go unscathed in some fashion from being isolated,” Goudlock wrote in an email to Midstory.

An unprecedented health crisis has led to drastic change in many social and political realms, and carceral facilities have not been spared. Severe outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons—perfect super-spreading environments—have forced correctional institutions to take swift action to mitigate viral transmission. In Ohio, correctional institutions have introduced new internal regulations while also working to reduce the incarcerated population (which decreased by over 2,000 people between April and June), opening up a unique opportunity for debate on the politics and policies of punishment in the state.

At ToCI and other carceral facilities in Ohio, reactive measures have likely prevented much larger and more sustained outbreaks. But these same policies have complicated life on the inside, exposing the psychological strains of incarceration during a pandemic.

Though few inmates openly share their fears of getting sick from COVID-19, Goudlock feels confident that people are nervous.

“Having fears in prison is something that’s viewed as a weakness, which someone will almost certainly try to exploit to their advantage. But being incarcerated during a deadly global pandemic is something that can’t be ignored,” he said.

Goudlock isn’t alone in his feelings. Just as isolation and anxiety surrounding the virus have exacerbated mental health concerns beyond prison walls, those factors have taken a toll on inmates already struggling to keep afloat.

“Mental health had [sic] become a disaster,” Patrick Rafferty—another inmate at ToCI—wrote in an email to Midstory. “I can tell you from personal experience it is next to impossible to get any type of treatment,” he added, alluding to his struggles with depression.

Daily Life in Toledo Correctional Institution During COVID-19

As a state maximum security prison housing 877 inmates, ToCI has instituted a number of new policies to enforce social distancing. Rafferty wrote that 6-foot perimeters are drawn around each correction officer’s desk, as well as 6-foot markers wherever there are lines in the prison, like in the cafeteria.

These requirements have eliminated the normal cafeteria crowds at breakfast, lunch and dinner; now, only one person is allowed at each table during meals. Even so, Goudlock—generally a hygiene-conscious person—has found himself especially stressed out by staff serving food trays without lids, increasing the potential for COVID-19 spread.

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) spokeswoman JoEllen Smith stated in an email to Midstory that prices in the commissary have been reduced to make food purchases more affordable, and that the current food regimen provides 2,700 calories (which falls within the standard range of caloric needs for adult men). But movement restrictions and limited-contact distribution have changed the content of meals as well, leaving some inmates unsatisfied; after receiving a hot breakfast and lunch, inmates are given a dinner to bring back to their cells.

“The meal quality has definitely deteriorated due to the elimination of ‘cooked’ dinner trays, which have been replaced by refrigerated bag dinners,” Goudlock wrote.

In addition to mealtimes, ToCI normally allows two to three hours of social time each day for inmates. During the coronavirus pandemic, that time has been reduced.

“Restricting that even more for this long of a period of time, it’s really hard on them. And humans, we’re social creatures,” Shiloh Logan, Rafferty’s fiancee, said.

During outdoor recreation time, only one housing unit is permitted to be out at a time, as opposed to the usual three. Units are kept completely to themselves in order to prevent spread of the disease. Few inmates have been able to continue working and earning money in the prison, according to Rafferty.

Traffic in and out of the prison is also limited; Smith says that only critical staff are allowed in the facility, meaning that regular volunteers have not been permitted inside for months. Even doctors’ visits are conducted virtually. As family visits have come to a halt, inmates have gone months without seeing their loved ones in person. In lieu of physical closeness, many have relied on a small number of free phone and video calls (though, notably, more than were afforded to them before the pandemic began) to facilitate digital reunions.

While Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is still not widely available, some supplies have been distributed among inmates. According to Smith, each ODRC inmate has been given at least four masks and a hygiene kit. Rafferty confirmed that inmates are required to wear masks any time that they are outside of their cells, writing that “[m]asks are given and they are enforced, and you lose privileges if you are caught without your mask.”

Though prisons across the country have been slow to permit hand sanitizer out of fear that inmates would abuse it for its alcohol content, ToCI has come to provide cleaning supplies for its inmates and now places hand sanitizer throughout the facility. Smith wrote that “high-touch” areas like doorknobs are supposed to be cleaned every 30 minutes.

Precautions for the inmates themselves include both health monitoring and isolation for suspected cases. Smith wrote that staff perform regular temperature, verbal and pulse-oximeter checks, and that medical co-pays are waived for inmates who exhibit flu-like symptoms. ToCI has now also converted an entire cell block into a quarantine unit for inmates exposed to the virus.

But Rafferty alleges that a form of solitary confinement, otherwise known as administrative segregation, was initially used to isolate those that became sick. His fiancée said that “[a] lot of people, if they’re not feeling well, they’re not saying anything because they don’t want to get stuck in the hole [solitary confinement] and have the small amount of privileges that they do have taken away. And it’s pretty much become a punishment to get sick.”

Goudlock also indicated that people are hesitant to report symptoms out of fear of being isolated without their property.

“I’ve heard that some prisoners were being placed in quarantine units without their property. This retaliatory behavior puts everybody at risk because prisoners aren’t going to report their symptons [sic] if they think they’re going to be retaliated against,” he wrote.

Another challenge is that ToCI’s population is not stagnant; administrators have had to develop protocols for managing new transfers from jails, too. If a jail sends over symptomatic inmates, they are sent back. All other transfers are kept in units together based on the date of their entry.

COVID-19 at the Lucas County Corrections Center

Jails have found themselves more vulnerable to outbreaks than prisons like ToCI because of crowding and population transiency. The Lucas County Corrections Center (LCCC), for example, serves mainly as a pre-trial detention facility and a jail for people facing sentences of less than a year.

According to Renee Heberle, a University of Toledo professor and educator at ToCI, “maximum security single-cell prisons have far less movement among the people residing there—incarcerated people—and far less contact between staff, volunteers and incarcerated individuals. So it ironically makes maximum security prisons a so-called safer place to be in the context of the pandemic.”

As of July 2, LCCC Captain Tricia White estimated that 10-12 people had contracted COVID-19 while incarcerated at the facility. 21 staff members had also tested positive.

“The jail itself is too old and way overcrowded,” Heberle said. “The population there tends to be much more transient, much more unstable in terms of not the individuals, but just the sort of sense of place. And [inmates] often get in really deep trouble when they’re there, either because of mental illness [or] because of addiction.”

To mitigate the risks of population turnover and close living quarters, LCCC administrators have tried to maintain a reduced occupancy during the public health crisis, operating at approximately 75% capacity with between 270 and 330 inmates and about 180 employees each day. Before the virus began to spread, the jail was operating much closer to 100% capacity.

According to White, local judges “have worked really well with us in terms of trying to help us keep our population down so that we can enforce things like social distancing better.” At the law enforcement level, police have aided depopulation efforts by opting for subpoenas over arrests for technical and parole violations. In this vein, correctional facilities have sought to determine candidates for early release while instituting electronic monitoring for those who are let out.

As at ToCI, life inside LCCC has changed significantly: visitation is virtual, recreation is limited to those in the same housing units, inmates are encouraged to wear the masks provided to them and staff are mandated to do so. Inmates reporting high temperatures or COVID-19 symptoms during their twice-daily medical checks are isolated; those who test positive are placed in one of 24 “medical cells.” Constantly-changing dynamics surrounding the virus have continued to provide obstacles to stability for administrators and inmates alike.
Pandemic Policies and the Future of Ohio Corrections

Viral transmission in prison and jail environments has proven difficult to control, leading to major outbreaks in carceral facilities across the U.S., especially in the early stages of the pandemic. For its part, following two particularly severe outbreaks at the Marion and Pickaway Correctional Institutions, Ohio has become the state with the fifth-highest number of inmate deaths from COVID-19.

In light of these troubling statistics, White worries that jails and prisons have been ignored in the state’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

“I think that corrections has been an overlooked area in terms of an area that has severely been impacted by the coronavirus,” she said. “Social distancing in a corrections environment is our biggest hurdle to try to overcome just because we are so limited in space and typically so overcrowded with population.”

The unique challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presents to corrections have prompted rapid and unprecedented policy shifts intended to adjust Ohio’s criminal justice system to a public health crisis. But some of the policies adopted by prisons have seemed like a double-edged sword.

While in-person visits have all but disappeared, inmates have been allotted extra opportunities to reach the outside world—one free video visit and two free phone calls per week, as well as eight free emails per month. Still, the disruption of volunteer programs has stripped inmates of educational and rehabilitative opportunities that normally provide a break from the monotony of prison life.

As single-person cells have proven most hygienic, inmates have sometimes found themselves with more personal space. At the same time, the need for social distancing has led to less communal time in an already-isolating environment.

Fears of the virus have created a stronger culture of health education and a wider implementation of basic hygiene measures, including the distribution of hand sanitizer. According to Smith, the ODRC has been in frequent communication with staff and inmates about health education through posters, emails and videos encouraging them to wash their hands and socially distance. But health concerns have also facilitated a culture of fear and mistrust coupled with a reluctance to disclose health issues for fear of hostility or forced seclusion (sometimes in the form of solitary confinement).

The state’s virus prevention strategy, including thinning out the prison population in order to reduce the chances of an outbreak, has required novel approaches to law enforcement and punishment through every part of the process. Captain Tricia White noted that other actors in the criminal justice system had become more “cognizant of the fact that what they do in their arena does have a bigger effect on jail populations,” explaining that more “manageable” numbers of detainees made virus response plans much easier; according to Smith, decreases in the incarcerated population as of July led to ODRC’s smallest inmate population since 2006.

Undeniably, COVID-19 has shaken up the inner workings of Ohio’s penal system. As the pandemic has prompted growing concerns about the health of the state’s prison population, long-standing calls for prison reform have been met with real policy shifts. While the ethics and effectiveness of these decisions remain up for debate, the pandemic has abruptly thrust a centuries-old system into the spotlight—and opened up opportunities for unprecedented change.

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Ohio Robbery Law

The following is from and shared here in order to get a sense of the injustice that Jason is facing.


Ohio Revised Code Title XXIX. Crimes Procedure Section 2911.01 & Section 2911.02


Aggravated Robbery (Section 2911.01):

It’s a first degree felony to do any of the following while attempting to commit or committing a theft offense, or fleeing immediately after the attempt or offense:

  • Have a deadly weapon and either show the weapon or use it;
  • Have a dangerous ordnance; or
  • Inflict, or attempt to inflict, serious physical harm on another.

Robbery (Section 2911.02):

  • It’s a second degree felony to have a deadly weapon or inflict, attempt to inflict, or threaten to inflict physical harm on another while committing or attempting to commit a theft offense, or fleeing after the offense.
  • It’s a third degree felony to use or threaten the immediate use of force against another while committing or attempting to commit a theft offense, or fleeing after the offense.


Conviction under Ohio’s robbery laws can result in imprisonment and fines:

  • First degree felony: prison term of 3 to 11 years and fines not exceeding $20,000.
  • Second degree felony: prison term of 2 to 8 years and fines not exceeding $15,000.
  • Third degree felony: prison term of 9, 12, 18, 24, 30, or 36 months and fines not exceeding $10,000.

Should the U.S. Adopt a New Flag?

After Adolf Hitler’s murderous military force was defeated in 1945, the infamous red, white, and black swastika-bearing German flag was abolished, along with all Nazi symbols. In 1949, the newly formed post-World War II countries of East Germany and West Germany both adopted the national flag colors of black, red, and gold. Following Hitler’s campaign to exterminate Jews, the Nazi flag was an image of horror to most Germans. Imagine the worldwide condemnation if the newly formed countries of East and West Germany had decided to adopt the “Nazi” flag with it’s swastika.

How, then, do the people of the United States consider it appropriate to fly the tri-colored red, white, and blue Stars and Stripes flag, which came into existence during the eighteenth century, when the U.S. was decimating the sacred lands and cultures of Native Americans and trafficking in enslaved humans from Africa?

Today, the people of a country that considers itself the leader of the free world should want to relinquish this symbol of historic atrocities, just as East and West Germany relinquished theirs after World War II. Not doing so, is to embrace a heritage rooted in oppression, thus, ignoring the feelings of millions of Americans who are the descendants of those who were oppressed, enslaved, and murdered on soil over which the Stars and Stripes flag flies.

The U.S. has made significant progress in improving race relations among its citizens, but it has not yet come to terms with the hard truth that no passage of time, no spoken words, no silence will separate it’s country’s dark history from it’s flag. It’s history has been written, and it cannot be erased. But, as history has shown, it can be transcended.

In 1994, three years after South Africa abolished its brutal and oppressive system of apartheid, the country began to transcend it’s deep racial divide by electing as President former political prisoner and African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela. The late Mandela’s election often overshadows the equally important adoption in 1994 of a flag designed to symbolize an all-inclusive ideal of unity. Of the flag’s six colors, the yellow, black, and green represent the African National Congress, which brought about the end of apartheid. The remaining red, white, and blue represent the Boer Republics founded by South Africa’s early Dutch settlers.

The flag remains the national flag of South Africa today, demonstrating to the world that great racial division can be mended. If South Africa can transcend their history of apartheid, the U.S. can transcend it’s history of racial strife.

With the still ongoing racial divide in the U.S. today made visible when unarmed people of color are killed by law enforcement officers, it would be a bold step toward atoning for it’s dark history if the U.S. retired it’s Stars and Stripes flag and adopted a new one, bearing in it’s design a symbol of unity. After coming to the aid of many members of the global community, the people of the U.S. need to come to the aid of their own by transcending its dark racial history.

President Donald Trump might not agree, but the U.S. need not regress to a time of greatness for a limited few. Instead, it needs to progress toward becoming great for all of it’s citizens. Adopting a new flag would be a giant step in that direction. The world rejoiced in 1994, when South Africa adopted their more inclusive flag, and I’m pretty sure it would do the same for the United States.

So, as the title of one of Spike Lee’s film suggests, “do the right thing,” America, and #MakeTheFlagGreat.

Read My New Essay: Should the U.S. Adopt a New Flag?

Date: June 16, 2020
Time: 3:08 p.m.
Location: Toledo Correctional Inst.

After seeing all of the statues of racist being destroyed throughout the U.S., and the Confederate flag finally getting taken down at NASCAR venues, it made me think about my essay that I wrote about the U.S. flag, “SHOULD THE U.S. ADOPT A NEW FLAG?” As I was looking over the table of contents for my website, to make sure I was citing the correct title of the essay, I noticed that the essay wasn’t listed on my website. I don’t know how this happened? But the essay is a must-read considering the current events and societal changes taking place.

The essay reads as follows. Please share it, and comment about it on social media. Thanking you in advance: