From the Brink of Death to Restoration
On July 3, 2004, inmate George Hamilton lay dying, choking on his own blood. Minutes before, he had been lured into a recreation shed at Warren Correctional Institution, where members of the Aryan Brotherhood, a violent prison gang, lay waiting for him.
Six months before, while incarcerated at Ross Correctional Institution, Mr. Hamilton received an anonymous letter from Aryan Brotherhood members threatening to kill him for allegedly snitching on a member of the gang. The Brotherhood has a violent reputation, and Mr. Hamilton immediately reported the threat to the staff. In response, a committee at Ross recommended that Mr. Hamilton be placed in protective custody. Later, a bureaucrat in Columbus overturned the committee’s recommendation and ordered a transfer to another prison instead. However, as prison officials knew, the Brotherhood is active in every prison, and threats follow inmates anywhere in the state. They also knew that the Brotherhood has a reputation for killing or seriously injuring people it believed had snitched. When Mr. Hamilton walked into that shed, the gang finally made good on its threat and beat Mr. Hamilton to within inches of his life.
As he will tell you, Mr. Hamilton is in some respects a lucky man. Despite personality changes, damage to his brain, and the loss of his senses of smell and taste, he is thankful to be alive and for OJPC’s help. In 2006, OJPC took on Mr. Hamilton’s case, aiming to hold the system responsible for failing to protecting him from a known threat. Students in the Constitutional Litigation Clinic convinced the federal courts not to dismiss Mr. Hamilton’s case but instead set it for trial. Before trial, the State agreed to Mr. Hamilton’s term to settle the case. Says Mr. Hamilton, “I am grateful for everything OJPC has done.”