Thursday, September 20, 2001

Payments to inmates approved in '93 prison riot

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A federal judge on Wednesday approved the payment of $2.4 million to inmates who suffered injuries or lost property during the Lucasville prison riot in 1993.

        The decision by U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel moves the eight-year legal battle over the riot a step closer to completion.

        Although the settlement was reached in 1997, payments to some inmates were later challenged by the state of Ohio.

        Lawyers for the Ohio Attorney General's office argued that many inmates should not be eligible for payments because they were not directly affected by the riot or did not suffer injuries.

        In his ruling Wednesday, Judge Spiegel rejected those arguments and approved the payments.

        “Overall, this case has consumed an enormous amount of judicial resources and this court has determined that it is time for all parties to have some closure in this matter,” the judge wrote.

        The case began shortly after the 1993 riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. A prison guard and nine inmates were killed. Dozens were injured.

        Many inmates were charged with crimes stemming from the riot. But those who were not charged sued in federal court, claiming the state did not adequately protect them.

        The case was settled four years ago for $4.1 million, with $2.4 million going to the inmates and $1.7 million to their lawyers.

        Cincinnati attorney Michael Barrett was appointed “claims administrator” to distribute the money to 900 inmates.

        The Attorney General's office argued that Mr. Barrett did not attempt to verify the claims of prisoners before recommending payments.

        The decision did not end the case because some other appeals are still pending.


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