Monday, August 18, 2014

Super Max Prisoner Represents Himself in Court while on Hunger Strike and Wins (2013)

This is from 2013, when Cornelius Harris was on hunger strike too. It is the account of the lawsuit he partly won during the hunger strike. It makes more clear why he went on hunger strike in the first place and why he endures.

February 10, 2013

sojaFrom Red Bird Abolition

Friday, February 8th, 2013, Mahoning County, OH-

The jury largely sided with hunger striking super max prisoner Cornelius Harris in his criminal trial this week. Harris was facing nine felony charges stemming from fights with guards at The Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP). Harris has long maintained that these fights were actually initiated by guards who have targeted him for harassment and abuse. Earlier this week, a jury found largely in Mr Harris’ favor.

Mr Harris initiated his hunger strike on January fourth, and went to trial later in the month. He represented himself, and part way through the trial he was transferred to Franklin Medical Center (FMC) because of his deteriorating health due to the hunger strike. Mr Harris says he has lost about fifty pounds, and is experiencing sharp pains in his legs. Doctors report that he is close to suffering serious medical problems like organ failure because he has refused food for so long.

On Tuesday February 5th, the court Judge Maureen Sweeney ordered Mr Harris return to court to complete his trial, against the wishes of doctors at FMC. Harris was transferred back to OSP and appeared in court, ending the jury phase of trial on Friday, February 8th. Mr Harris was charged with two counts of attempted aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, three counts of felonious assault, and three possession of a dangerous weapon while in detention charges. He was found not guilty of the attempted murder and felonious assault charges. Both attempted aggravated murder charges were reduced to felonious assault.

Mr Harris represented himself, with no assistance from lawyers, while his health was seriously compromised by the hunger strike. He says he is confident that under different circumstances, or with legal representation he would have also beaten the remaining charges.

As of Friday evening, Mr Harris is still on hunger strike. He was threatening to refuse water as well as food, a decision that would risk ending his life within 72 hours, but after the trial results and a meeting with the warden, he decided to drink water at least through the weekend. Mr Harris is making two main demands. First, an end to this harassment from guards and second, an improved procedure for security level review.

In June of 2012, Mr Harris released a statement, posted to RedBird Prison Abolition’s website detailing this abuse. In this statement he names correctional officers Timothy McVay, James Burns, Kieth Hawn and Waylon Wine as abusers. Mr Harris is concerned that these or other guards may escalate harassment and violence against him because of the results of the trial.

Mr Harris has been incarcerated at OSP since being transferred from Southern Ohio Correctional Institution (SOCF) in Lucasville five and a half years ago. The incidents producing these criminal charges occurred in 2009 and 2010. Mr Harris says he has not had any incident reports for the last three years, but has been kept on level 5 with severely restricted access to visitors, commissary and programming.  Under these limitations, there is very little any level 5 prisoners can do to demonstrate good behaviour and reduce their security level.

In June of 2012, a death sentenced level 5 prisoner at OSP named Jason Robb went on a nine day hunger strike which ended with modifications to security review procedure and privileges for him and other death sentenced prisoners at OSP. These changes include limited congregate recreation, full contact visits, and increased frequency of security reviews. These changes allow the death sentenced prisoners at OSP to demonstrate ability to be housed on death row in Chillicothe. Mr Harris is demanding that these changes also apply to him. Mr Harris says Warden David Bobby is unwilling to meet these demands because he would have to apply the same changes to all level 5 prisoners.

Prisoner advocates say that these step-down procedures should be applied to all level 5 prisoners. Prisoners on level 5 at OSP spend 23 hours a day alone in their small cells, often for years on end. They have no human contact other than guards. These conditions are common in US super max prisons, but violate international human rights standards and are widely considered a form of torture.

Supporters are requesting that people call OSP Warden David Bobby on Monday, demanding that Mr Harris be kept safe from retaliation and have his hunger strike demands met. Warden Bobby can be reached at 330-743-0700 ext 2006. People are also encouraged to contact central office and demand oversight and changes to the security review system for level 5 prisoners. The number for Central Office is 614-752-1159.

Write to Mr Harris:

Cornelius Harris
OSP 525-945
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd
Youngstown OH 44505

Example: “Hello, I’m calling about an inmate named Cornelius Harris NUMBER 525-945. It is my understanding that he has been on hunger strike for over 30 days.

I am calling to request that you meet with Mr. Harris as soon as possible and see to it that his very basic demands are met… (They are: an end to violence and harassment from guards, and a reliable security level step down procedure).

Thank you for taking my call and I trust that you understand your responsibility to meet these two legitimate requests as it says something when an inmate under you supervision is willing to wager their life for their basic safety. Thank you again for taking my call and I I will be keeping tabs on the outcome of this strike.”

More news: June 4 2012: Ohio Super Max Prisoner Resumes Hunger Strike

May 1st, 2012: Ohio Super Max Prisoners on Hunger Strike 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hunger Strike Days: 65+

Yesterday, July 5th, Cornelius called and he told us this: he is still on hungerstrike, being around the 65th day, but he also receives fluids like yello, gatorade, broth. He was allowed a phonecall in return for eating a little bit. He is very thin of course.

Cornelius is still in gridlock about the issues for his hunger strike, which he began when he was locked up in Maryland in a "hypermax," where the employees threw away all his belongings, including photos, legal documents. In MD they also held him in restraints for 7 days!

Here are the main issues:

- Cornelius wants a reasonable step-down program from level 5 security to 4 in Ohio. In level 5 people remain there pretty much forever and there is really no move towards a lower level of security (solitary confinement forever) unless one demands it.
Just like deathrow prisoners and lifers from the 1993 Lucasville prison uprising, Cornelius is stuck on level 5. He needs a reasonable step-down program to be able to go down a level and have the torture of indefinite solitary confinement stopped.

- Cornelius refuses to be around specific officers. We support his principled stance. Officers have to be educated in human dignity and rights, and they have to be taught that those fellow human beings they keep locked up are that: fellow human beings.

- Cornelius wants to be allowed to re-order the property that was destroyed by MD officers. It is reasonable to allow this, since Cornelius is not asking ODRC to replace the missing items, only that his family can re-order them.

Cornelius is still in the hospital but he expects he will be returned to OH State Penitentiary sooner or later. The hospital has told him he has to negotiate with OSP.

Cornelius thanks everyone who has reached out to him, who has written to him and/or called the prison hospital. He WILL respond when he is allowed by ODRC to receive writing materials and stamps!

Cornelius has not received Jpays at the FMC, maybe these are sent to OSP. His physical address at OSP is:

Cornelius Harris #525945
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd,
Youngstown, OH 44505

Love and Solidarity!
Cornelius' Support team

Tuesday, May 6, 2014



Birthed and Hated
Raised and Despised
Poked and Feared
Accused and Tried
Locked up and Forgot about
April 2014, ©Cornelius Harris

I Do

Do you know how it feel to hate another man? I do.
And you would to if you went through some of the things that I been through.
Stepped on walked on disrespected and connived on.
Spit on, pissed on, shitted on and lied on.
Would you hate a man if he called you nigger and piece of shit every time he walks pass your cell?
Spit in your food then tell you to spell his name right when you write it up and tell?
And we aint talked about him throwing away your incoming and out-going mail.
And the destruction he do to your personal property when he shake down your cell.
Calling your family members niggers as he rip up your pictures right there in you face.
Handcuffs squeezing your wrist, shackles on your ankles restraining your anger, keeping you right there in your place.
Aint no sense in complaining, wont nobody hear you if you scream and yell.
Everything that bring you comfort in this hell, is broke and ripped up on the floor when the pig leave your cell.
And this aint even part of the struggle, this is only the process.
Every day you live without being tormented, or humiliated is a process.
Handcuffed and shackled as six cowards pigs beat you to a pulp, while yelling “stop resisting”- the ordeal.
Broken up, battered and bruised and tossed into a dark and cold cell until the wounds can heal.
When the coward pig decide to release you from your concentrated thoughts, only one kind of man will emerge from that tomb.
A broken, submissive, and forgiving man, or a Soja with revenge in his heart ready and willing to retaliate for the pain of his wounds.
These are the types of cowards who hold the keys to a condemned mans life.
These are the type of cowards who are the representatives of the stars and strips.
Do you know how it feel to hate a man now? I DO.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Many kinds of Love

…..Many kinds of Love……
     Embraced in the matter of ones unconditional understanding of what sits in the heart, mind and actions.
Love can be something of mutual satisfaction, or the twisted thoughts of ones fatal attraction.
New love causes the heart to skip a beat, and butterflies to wallow up in the belly.
Fresh love is the kind of love that gives youth to an old soul, and make old folks act foolish and silly.
Old love is the love that has gone on a long journey, but still seem to have found its way.
This is the love that look at every struggle as a time to fight, and love to die another day.
Brotherly love is what you feel for a friend or comrade, who has proven themselves worthy.
Revolutionary love is, a love that is shared by the oppressed worldly.
I love you, and I love you too is either a lie or a confession.
Much love, and love always, is only a expression.
Love have many meanings for those who find love, these are just a few examples of the many kinds of love.

Broken Heart

The feeling that I'm feeling, is the feelings of a broken heart.
And trying to work it out is like trying to repair it with a broken part.
Will it ever drop and get kicked around in the dirt again?
I need a heart, because without a heart its just a hole. And the heart is the device that pumps love to the soul.
I don't want to be heartless man living life without love.
Because a man without love, is a man holding a grudge.
With a broken heart relationships will never be the same.
And if you ever try to love again, you will only feel the pain.
And the shame from the time when your heart got broke.
And the feeling is the same like when you cant stop choking.
On a love you thought was ment for you, before it all fell apart.
Time will tell, if time can heal the wounds to a Broken heart.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cornelius back in OSP

News reached us just now that Soja is back in Ohio from being transferred out of state to Maryland.


Cornelius Harris #525945
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd,
Youngstown, OH 44505

You can also write him via

Monday, March 24, 2014

… Blood in My Pen…

This was published in the SF Bay View, March 24, 2014:

My pen cutting wounds into the surface, forming letters, creating words that express my existence. Wounds that never seem to heal because they are real testaments to who I am, where I come from, and what I been through.

Peroxide only seem to palliate the damage, that make the healing process even dawdling.
However, when time does heal these wounds – because these wounds will ameliorate – you will be forced to look at those scars and fear the reprisal of the political monster you created.

Hiding my scars by forcing me into solitary sequester, away from the inquisitive eyes of society, only corroborates your barbaric nature and prolongs your trial date.

With every stroke of this pen my blood flows profusely, racing to record my pain that will one day be used as evidence against my tormentors.

Who is really the criminal? Me and my ancestors who were kidnapped and brought to this bellicose foreign land? Don’t want to talk about that  though, huh?

Locked in solitary confinement, fighting a war that’s within myself.

Never quitting on myself even when those around me have done just that, I’m believing in myself.

Reality is present at all times while surrounded by nonsense and men with small minds.

Gotta be careful not to shed too many tears though, you would surely drown in such small confines.

In solitude, strength is a luxury and not all men are capable of being strong.

Every day will test your strength and you will lose your grip and fall if you don’t hold on.

Gotta hold on even when you don’t know if the struggle will ever end.

I’m holding on to the smallest things, because I see the blood and I know that it’s life in this pen.

March 11, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

All I think about: oppression

All I think about is the pain of oppression. It is embedded so deep into my mind because it has always been a part of my existence, from time immemorial. In the beginning stages of life, I was impervious to ethics and ignorant to values, because my family was also unlearned to the effects. 

Oppression was the norm for me growing up, it’s not that I accepted it then, I always thought it was the way things were supposed to be, so it was never really a thought. The institutions of my culture and its psychological acceptance of poverty and failure to rise above it is the direct cause of our innate oppression. This is all I think about, all I want to know about and all I want to fight about.

This psychological lock down on our lives so to speak was not formed by mistake or occurrence, this was a designed plan that has been perfected over the past five centuries starting with the institutions of slavery and continuing with the mass incarceration of Blacks, and citizens being forced to hand over their lives to elected officials in a blatant lie to achieve what they claim to be democracy.

This is typical U.S. fashion, hiding behind melodious words in an attempt to deceive the American people into believing that poverty and oppression is a stepping block to get to the American dream.

As I stated before, this is a designed society. Once upon a time, there literally were many officials who attended a symposium to orchestrate this sick plan to colonize its own people and create this super political infrastructure that would protect the interest of the rich and use whatever means or methods to sustain and grow the infrastructure for many generations.

They further came up with the twisted plan to travel across the Atlantic and kidnap Africans and force them to plow fields and work the land until they died. What I don’t think these gross cowards thought about and expected when they huddled around camp fires, broke with nothing, on lands that belonged to the natives, was the abolishment of slavery. The cursed human beings really conceived in their insensitive minds that such an inhumane and barbaric tradition would actually survive the test of time, so yes the end of slavery sent the colonist running back to the drawing board to design something more sufficient and forever lasting. Birthed from their twisted minds came the Prison Industrial Complex.

All I seem to think about is how at such a young age I could be stripped from my family’s picture frame and thrust into the system’s current with no knowledge of how long this ride down this treacherous river of uncompromised and indifference would last before I was hurled over the waterfall’s cliff to mental and emotional breakdown, or plunged to my death.

This is the reality for many young black youth growing up in America and if things don’t change, there will be many more Sojas thrust into the system’s current. That may not be a bad thing though, because the more Sojas that are thrust into the system’s current, could cause the clot that’s needed to collapse this infrastructure.

As stated by Jean-Paul Sartre in his Preface in Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, “We only become what we are by radically negating deep down what others have done to us.” We will soon grow into men in which our weight and strength will match our hate, then the tables will turn.

The fires that burn deep down in the pit of my hollow soul are sustained with desire and fueled with the coals of oppression. My love, solidarity and support is on the side of the oppressed and my hate, anger and aggression is against our oppressor.

The power is with the people, my people.

In Solidarity,

March 11, 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Not the one that takes orders, crosses borders and slaughters the innocent, naw, not that soldier.

Trapped in an artificial war zone created by the oppressor.

Forced to clash with the opposition that need like me, greed like me, I shot dudes and they bleed like me.

Why so much hate? They never read a book like me, they crook like me, them dudes even look like me.

Camouflaged for guerilla warfar,
Appearance of a thug, tattoos, braids locked in hair.

Overlooked by my enemies because of my appearance, typical stereotype.
My artillery consists of Malcolm X, Assata, Che Guevara, Frantz Fanon, George Jackson and the likes.

Ready for the war that’s being waged on my people for the last 400 plus.

I understand the virtue of patience so for now I can’t rush.

I can’t wait, don’t want to be like those who use patience as a means to disguise their cowardice.

March 2014