From The Vault


From the Vault: Nine inmates, one guard killed in 1993 Lucasville prison riot

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Posted at 2:05 PM, Apr 11, 2018
and last updated 2019-04-11 10:22:47-04

WATCH a timeline of the 11-day riot in the video player above.

Twenty-five years ago, Ohio prison inmates killed nine of their own and one corrections officer during an 11-day riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.

About 450 prisoners took part in the riot that started on Easter Sunday, April 13, 1993. Lucasville was the state’s only maximum-security prison and housed the most dangerous offenders, many of whom had psychological disorders. The riot ringleaders were identified as members of various gangs, including Black Muslims and Aryan Brotherhood.

WATCH autopsy reports reveal horrible details of inmates' deaths:


On the first day, rioters took over Cellblock L and brutally beat and stabbed five inmates to death and tossed their bodies in the exercise yard. The victims were considered snitches. Four others were killed over the next few days. One was strangled with cords after paper and plastic were shoved in his mouth.

Rioters also took eight prison guards hostage. When they didn’t think prison officials were taking their demands seriously, they strangled guard Robert Vallandingham on the fifth day.

On the same day, a police helicopter crashed outside the prison. Three officers were injured.

WATCH Muslim rioters declare their demands to prison officials:


Ringleaders insisted on talking to TV and newspaper reporters to make their complaints and demands known. Chief among them: Abusive treatment and overcrowding. In addition, Black Muslims wanted mandatory tuberculosis testing stopped, saying it violated Islam, along with other concessions to their faith. Rioters also demanded the warden be fired and amnesty for all who participated.

Two of the Muslim leaders were allowed in the recreation yard to negotiate with two prison officials. They sat across each other at a table with a microphone that broadcast their conversation live to TV and radio stations across the state.

Gov.  George Voinovich, whose father had designed the prison, called in the Ohio National Guard to support police and sheriff units from around the state. There was no place for them to sleep, so they took up with hogs, cows and sheep in the prison barns.

Officials shut off electricity and water to Cellblock L when the riot began. A breakthrough occurred on the sixth day when food and water was sent in.

Over time, two guards were released and most of the inmates in the cellblock walked out and surrendered. About 60 remained when the standoff entered its second week. When officials eventually agreed to review their demands,  the rest of the rioters released the remaining guards and gave up on April 21, 1993.

SEE the damage in Cellblock L after the riot:


Once reporters were allowed inside, they found Cellblock L trashed and in ruin. Lt. Gov. Mike DeWine described it as “devastation.” Rioters caused more than $40 million damage, smashing sinks, toilets, water pipes and anything breakable, and setting fires to mattresses and whatever they could burn.

Five inmates were sentenced to death for their roles in the riots but remain on death row. Out of 50 inmates who faced charges, 47 were convicted.

WATCH Special Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier say the Lucasville riot led to changes that protect guards and inmates.


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