Isolated Amidst Illness: Midstory.org Article

The following was recently published here: Isolated Amidst Illness (Midstory.org)


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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 https://statelaws.findlaw.com/ohio-law/ohio-robbery-laws.html and shared here in order to get a sense of the injustice that Jason is facing.

Statutes

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

Charges

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.

Penalties

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.

Press Release: Imprisoned Ohio Lebron Fan Puts Up Billboard


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


DATE: April 6, 2020
CONTACT:
info@freejasongoudlock.org

SUBJECT: IMPRISONED OHIO LEBRON FAN JASON GOUDLOCK PROMOTES PRISON DOCUMENTARY VIA LOS ANGELES BILLBOARD

Ohio prisoner Jason Goudlock, 45, who made international headlines in 2014 when he made the comment to the Ohio Parole Board of wanting to be released, in part, so that he could “witness in-person LeBron James’ pursuit of an NBA Championship for [Goudlock’s] hometown” of Cleveland, recently procured a digital billboard in Los Angeles,CA, to promote the CROW-TONE and William Nichols produced documentary “INVISIBLE CHESS:THE JASON GOUDLOCK STORY,” a film by New York film director Samuel H. Crow that delves into Goudlock’s longtime situation of injustice as an over-incarcerated prisoner who has been imprisoned since his 1993 arrest for aggravated robbery and assault.

Goudlock states on FreeJasonGoudlock.org that the gist of his 2014 letter to the Ohio Parole Board, which outlined several documented incidents of prisoner abuse committed against him by Ohio prison authorities, ranging from being assaulted by officers to having false criminal charges filed against him by a former warden who is now a member of the Ohio Parole Board, was overshadowed by his lighthearted comment about former Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James.

Goudlock further alleges that he was retaliated against by the Ohio Parole Board at his 2014 and 2019 hearings, due to speaking out about the incidents of injustice, which are documented in the INVISIBLE CHESS film.

Goudlock, who is the published author of the novel BROTHER OF THE STRUGGLE, is currently incarcerated at the Toledo Correctional Institution in Toledo, OH.

According to his “What’s Going On Blog” on FreeJasonGoudlock.org, Goudlock hopes that the Los Angeles billboard will attract the support of “influential social activist, such as Prof. Michelle Alexander, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Z, Kim Kardashian-West, Spike Lee, and LeBron James.

Video and photo images of the Los Angeles billboard can be viewed and
downloaded here:

“Invisible Chess” Billboard Video #1
“Invisible Chess” Billboard Video #2
“Invisible Chess” Billboard Video #3

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


The Old Law and The New: Jason Goudlock in Ohio

Originally aired January 5, 2020 on The Final Straw Radio Podcast.

The Final Straw Radio Podcast

First, we’ll hear from Jason Goudlock, a prisoner under the so-called “Old Law” in Ohio serving his 26th year of a 6-25 year sentence. Jason talks about the situation in Ohio between the “Old Law” and the “New Law”, for instance if he had been convicted of the same robbery and battery crimes three years later he might have served half of the time. Jason also speaks about the whims of the the Ohio Parole Board, some corroborated in public statements by former OPB member, Shirley Smith (linked in the show notes, and mentioning the situation of Marc Houc for instance).

Jason is the subject of a documentary, “Invisible Chess: The Jason Goudlock Story”, which can be found for free at FreeJasonGoudlock.org. Education packs for teachers can be found on the site for the film, InvisibleChess.com. The film will be shown on Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020 from 1:30-3pm alongside a discussion at Bard College led by the filmmaker, Samuel Crow, along with prison reformer Bill Nichols. It can be viewed it at the Bertelsmann Weis Cinema on the Bard College campus. You can find Jason’s website and blog up at his website. There is a gofundme run to raise funds for Jason’s legal defense and raising awareness of his case and those of other Old Law prisoners.

Jason also suggests FairTreatmentReformAndReentry.org to learn more about the struggle and check out recent legislation put forth in Ohio to affect the Old Law/New Law sentencing disparities (and in particular, Beverley A. Seymore, author of the Parole Reform Bill).

Near the end I ask Jason about recent hunger strikes by Mark Hinkston and David Easley, two other Ohio prisoners held for a bit at Toledo CI, who we’ve interviewed before on the show. The hunger strike was a protest against the use of solitary confinement specifically to torture prisoners suffering from mental health crises. More on that below. Jason also mentions the recent sexual abuse of prisoners at Toledo CI by mental health staff member Maggie Jedlinsky.

Finally, Jason shouts out the cases of the Lucasville Uprising. Check our show notes for links to our interviews with Hasan over the years and with Bomani Shakur, aka Keith Lamar, on his book Condemned and Greg Curry from the case. We also spoke with an attorney (Niki Schwartz) and another prisoner present on the 25th anniversary of the uprising.

Filming injustice in Ohio’s prisons: Jason Goudlock’s story

January 4, 2020
Originally published on sfbayview.com.

by Bill Nichols

Jason Goudlock, an Ohio inmate, expected to gain his freedom soon when he wrote to me in 2008. He had served 14 years, beginning when he was 18, and he wanted to learn how to make a documentary film about the challenges he expected to face when he was released from prison. Unfortunately, he didn’t need to worry about adjusting to life on the outside anytime soon.

Still imprisoned today, Goudlock received a five-year “flop” in August – a parole board decision to hold him at least until 2024. That’s the bad news.

Since 2008, Goudlock has worked with me on his writing. He’s published a novel, “Brother of the Struggle” (2014), as well as many essays that can be found at www.FreeJasonGoudlock.org.

And I found Samuel Crow, a documentary filmmaker interested in prison reform. Crow recently completed work on “Invisible Chess: The Jason Goudlock Story,” a documentary now available free at www.FreeJasonGoudlock.org. (For a trailer, teacher’s guide, press kit and more see www.InvisibleChess.com.) That’s the good news.

Instead of focusing on the challenges Goudlock will face when he is finally free, “Invisible Chess” explores the injustice Goudlock and many other Ohio inmates face now. A “truth in sentencing” law Ohio passed in 1996 created a growing class of “new-law” prisoners who know exactly when they will get out.

“Old-law” inmates like Goudlock, who went into prison before 1996, are made vulnerable by this discrepancy. They can be denied parole for fighting even when they are simply defending themselves from younger men who will never face a parole board. The truth is “old-law” prisoners keep the Ohio Parole Board in business. And Goudlock has been denied parole six times.

When he first contacted me, he’d just read an essay of mine, “Contemplating Torture,” in which I compared our country’s use of isolation in prisons with our use of torture in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. At the time Goudlock was in the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP), a high maximum-security prison (“supermax”) where most of the men are held in isolation.

At the age of 12, Goudlock was sent away from his home in Cleveland for almost three years to a private residential treatment center in Pennsylvania, where, he writes: “I spent about two-thirds of my time in isolation.” Later, in our correspondence, Goudlock seldom mentioned his isolation at OSP, but in the next few years he would complicate my understanding of its effects.

Goudlock, 44, has experienced isolation off and on for most of his life. In recent years he has reluctantly begun to embrace it despite advice like this from attorney Alice Lynd, probably the wisest of his many correspondents:

“People need to be interacting with other people in order to maintain their perspective. Reading is fine, but not to the exclusion of living interaction with other people. You could be so messed up by the time you were released from prison that it would be very hard to adjust.”

I’ve mentioned such dangers to Goudlock too, adding that the Parole Board uses his unwillingness to live in the general population as evidence that he’s not ready to be released. This is his answer:

“If I call attention to corruption in the criminal justice system, as I have, my time will be increased, as it has. I have come to believe the only way I can survive my time in prison is if I’m isolated from the general population. …

“Trying to study and write in a general population cell makes as much sense as a student trying to study for an exam at a heavy-metal concert instead of in a library. Solitary confinement is no library, but it is the lesser of two evils. It is a stressful, often depressing, environment, but I’d rather be stressed and depressed and able to function than unable to function at all.”

When prisons are run unjustly, Goudlock has convinced me, a prisoner who is strong enough psychologically can sometimes find a better life in the “hole” than in the general population. Ohio has such a prison system.

There is irony in my relationship with Jason Goudlock. He got in touch with me because of that essay I wrote calling our nation’s use of isolation torture. While he hasn’t convinced me otherwise, he’s shown me that an injustice like the old-law/new-law discrepancy can make isolation preferable to life in the general population for some prisoners.

Another irony: making “Invisible Chess: The Jason Goudlock Story,” Samuel Crow and I uncovered evidence that Ohio’s “truth in sentencing” legislation reduces the chance that “new-law” prisoners will participate in classes and other activities that encourage rehabilitation.

One more irony: a condemned man mentored Goudlock while he was in isolation at OSP. Siddique Abdullah Hasan, an African-American imam, was sentenced to death for his role in a 1993 prison uprising at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, that led to the deaths of nine inmates and one guard. Hasan played a crucial role in negotiating an end to the uprising, and in a trial that followed the rebellion some inmates were given shortened sentences after testifying against him. (See Staughton Lynd, “The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising,” 2011.)

Goudlock talked with Hasan when he exercised in a day room outside Goudlock’s cell. He read some of Hasan’s essays. He began to write after months of little more than shouting protests in his cell about his unjust predicament.

He wrote “Brother of the Struggle” and his many essays. He can be found commenting on the American flag, hip-hop and “Invisible Chess” on www.prisonradio.org. He has become a crusader against Ohio’s unjust sentencing guidelines and is likely to continue even if it means another “flop” and more time behind bars.

Anyone wanting to urge the Ohio Legislature to resolve the unjust discrepancy in the state’s sentencing guidelines can contact Sen. Cecil Thomas, Senate Building, 1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor, Columbus, OH 43215, 614-466-5980, and Gov. Mike DeWine, Riffe Center, 30th Floor, 77 South High St., Columbus, OH 43215, 614-644-4357.

Bill Nichols, a retired English professor, writes columns for the Valley News in New Hampshire. He can be reached at nichols@denison.ed

Imprisoned LeBron Fan Uses Billboards In Fight For Freedom

***************** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE *******************

On November 1, 2019, the freedom campaign of Ohio prisoner Jason Goudlock, 44, who is the subject of the feature-length documentary INVISIBLE CHESS: The Jason Goudlock Story, erected a digital billboard in Ohio and Atlanta, GA, calling for his release.

Goudlock, a native of Cleveland, OH, who made international headlines in 2014 for a comment he made to the Ohio Parole Board about LeBron James, is serving an indeterminate sentence.

***************** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE *******************

Letter to The Walt Disney Company

I wrote to The Walt Disney Company about my documentary, Invisible Chess: The Jason Goudlock Story, because I thought it would appeal to ABC News and ESPN, both owned by Disney. But, I guess, “doing the right thing” only matters to filmmakers like Spike Lee.

This was their response:

Dear Mr. Goudlock:

This will acknowledge, with thanks, your letter to The Walt Disney Company seeking out out interest in a documentary about the Ohio criminal justice system and your life story. Your correspondence was forwarded to the Disney Legal Department as it is our responsibility to respond to such submissions and inquiries on behalf of the Disney organization.

Please know that we sympathize with the circumstances of your position and we appreciate your interest in writing to us. As to the kind offer of your story and offer, I must explain that our company’s long-established policy does not allow us to accept for review or consideration any ideas, suggestions or creative materials not specifically solicited by us or our subsidiaries. It is our intention to avoid misunderstandings when projects are created internally which might be similar to submissions made to us from outside the company.

We recognize that this policy is sometimes a disappointing one as when someone like yourself, a creative individual, with all the best intentions, would simply like us to consider your own creative idea and offer. Experience has taught us, though, that if we abandon our policy for one person, we will have to make exceptions for others and soon we will have no policy at all. Therefore, as required, I must return your letter and accompanying documents, unexamined, and without retaining any copies. We hope you will understand that this is not meant to be a reflection on the merit of your offer and idea. Rather, this is how we are required to respond to all unsolicited submissions.

Although our reply must necessarily be one other than what you might have hoped for, we do appreciate your interest in writing to us.

Very truly yours,

The Legal Department

The Walt Disney Company


Download a copy of the letter from The Walt Disney Company here:

Jason’s Claim of Innocence Letter to Subway

Dear Subway,

My name is Jason Goudlock and I’m a 43-year-old Ohio prisoner who has been imprisoned since 1993, for committing several offenses of robbery and felonious assault. I’m writing this letter to you, however, in regards to my effort to prove my innocence in one of the robberies, which involved one of your Subway franchises in Cleveland, Ohio.

According to police records of Cleveland’s Fourth District Police Department, on March 9, 1993, a Subway eatery on Broadway Road was allegedly robbed by me (and a second suspect). The records also state that the Subway’s video surveillance system recorded footage of me robbing the sandwich shop. As I’ve mentioned above, however, I did not rob your establishment, and I am seeking to clear my name.

With this being said, in the interest of undoing an egregious case of injustice (Case No. CR299248, Cuyahoga County), I humbly ask that you, please, please assist me with obtaining the video surveillance tape of the 1993 Subway robbery. I have never seen the footage of the video, that is, because I was ineffectively represented by court appointed attorneys who manipulated me into forfeiting my right to go to trial. I know that the video, however, will exonerate me of any wrongdoing, that is, because I did not commit the robbery!

If you will help me to obtain the sought video, I simply ask that you make it available to the media and general public. The vindicating footage will speak for itself and will surely lead to me being freed from my nightmarish situation of injustice.

Although I did commit some of the robberies that I was convicted of committing in 1993, I shouldn’t have to have my entire life destroyed because of mistakes that I made as a juvenile, and because of a broken criminal justice system. With this being said, if you can find it in your heart to be an advocate of me being afforded the justice that I’ve been denied, I assure you that your gesture will exponentially benefit not just me, but it will, also, benefit countless of other at-risk young men and women. For, I intend to spend the rest of my life using my restored freedom towards preventing at-risk youth from traveling down the perilous road that I once traveled down.

In closing, I just want to say thank you for your time, and that I hope you will seriously consider helping me with proving my claim of innocence. At a time when the U.S. is greatly divided by various social inequalities and politics, I think that answering my plea to you for assistance would be a good opportunity to help move the country in a positive direction.

Sincerely,

Jason Goudlock

Postscript: How about a job if I’m released? I’d love to be an example of redemption as a Subway employee



[1] A feature length film documentary, Invisible Chess: The Jason Goudlock Story, was recently released about my overall situation of injustice as an over-incarcerated Ohio “Old-law” prisoner. In 2014, after my protestations about my situation of injustice were publicized by way of a lighthearted comment that I made about LeBron James, I was given an unjust 60-month sentence continuation.

Invisible Chess World Premier – Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
WILLIAM NICHOLS, PRODUCER
INFO@INVISIBLECHESS.COM

Invisible Chess: The Jason Goudlock Story, a documentary by director Samuel Crow, will be premiering at the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival on September 26th and 27th.

Invisible Chess, a feature-length documentary, tells how an unjust Ohio law shapes the lives of Jason Goudlock, 4,000 other “old-law” prisoners, and 45,000 “new-law” prisoners. The story begins with Goudlock’s disrupted life in Cleveland, which led him to prison at the age of eighteen. Taken under the wing of older death row convicts, Jason became an activist and writer. But the struggles of being an old-law con have led him to spend years in solitary confinement, often voluntarily. Current and former prisoners and officials help explore the ramifications of Goudlock’s story, which is punctuated by six of his raps, performed in the film.

The Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival, which celebrates the African cultural diaspora, will be showing Invisible Chess at 8:20 p.m. on Wednesday, September 26th and at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, the 27th at the Shaker Square Cinema. Crow will be present at both screenings to answer questions, and interviews can be arranged by contacting info@invisiblechess.com.

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