We, supporters, friends, family of George Skatzes, a man on death row in Ohio, want to tell you the truth about George, and we hope that you too will see that injustices can happen to anyone: you and me. We need fairness and justice. Please show support! Thank you!
First: George’s sister Jackie’s words:
Stop the injustice before they execute an innocent man
On January 30, 1996, George Skatzes (pronounced like “Skates”) was sentenced to death for the murders of two prisoners during the 11-day uprising in April 1993 at the maximum security Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.
During the uprising George acted as a peacekeeper and spokesman for prisoners. Many prisoners credit George with saving their lives during the riot. Former hostage guard Jeffrey Ratcliff asked the jurors to spare George’s life, stating under oath that George helped protect two guards and even released a third guard who was badly injured. Ratcliff went on to say that he wouldn’t be alive today if not for George. Surely the death toll from the uprising would have been much, much higher if not for George. He has been sentenced to death because he refused to cooperate (snitch) with prison officials, who promised not to prosecute him if he would “cooperate.”
George became the target of the investigation because he had the courage to come forward and help negotiate a peaceful end to the uprising. As a spokesman, he became a SYMBOL and a TARGET.
The prisoners who actually committed the murders that George has been sentenced to death for, haven’t been charged with any crimes, or were given lenient sentences in exchange for their testimony against George.
Is that how Justice works? The real killers get off the hook by blaming their crimes on someone else? They admitted that they killed the prisoners, but claim that George gave the order. These State Witnesses would say anything to avoid the Death Penalty!
Assistant Franklin County prosecutor Dan Hogan stated, “Hopefully we’ve sent a message to any other inmates who might ever consider doing anything like this again.”
Yes, they intend to execute George to send a message. But the message is: You can kill guards and prisoners during a riot and blame someone else for it afterwards and the State will help protect You!
Another message the State sends us with this verdict is:
Don’t get Involved, don’t step forward and try to stop the killings. Step aside and let it happen, otherwise you become a SYMBOL and a TARGET for State Prosecution. That’s the real message.
Justice was not served in the death penalty verdict George received. He is now 74 years old and sitting on death row waiting for his appeals to run out and an execution date to be set. The Truth has to come out. We can’t allow George to die as a SYMBOL to send us a Message.
George is a good solid prisoner who has always been willing to HELP someone else. Everyone who knows George agrees that he is Innocent of the Charges that were brought against him by the State.
This is a desperate plea for support in the fight for an Innocent man’s life.
From the website editor:
George’s supporters over the years have grown, and a book that is very important was published by renowned historian and lawyer Staughton Lynd: Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising (2005, reprinted 2011).
Since George’s conviction in January 1996, his sister has waged her own fight to make the public aware of the Injustice within our Judicial system. But she and the family cannot do it on their own.
We need moral support for George, and we need the public to stand behind George and all others who were given death sentences and wrongful convictions because of snitch testimony.
There is no justice for anyone, victim, victim’s family nor prisoner wrongfully convicted, if snitch testimony is being used, favors are being promised in return for “information” which is not according to what happened, but received by the authorities using pressure, dividing prisoners against each other. That is the “game” that has been “played” by the authorities following the Lucasville prison uprising in 1993.
In George’s own words:
Judicial System Gone Awry
The Case of George W. Skatzes, #173 501
Nearly 25 years ago the lives of my family as well as my own changed forever.
No question about it, life will never be the same for any of us.
Being up front about it, I have been an outlaw for the better part of my life. One thing for sure, I will never pass myself off for something I am not.
I was not accepted in the mainstream of society. Being forced into a sub culture, no doubt I came up in this world with very different views.
With the above in mind, it was very easy for the powers that be to convict me of a crime I had nothing to do with. They really wanted me off the streets and it didn’t matter how they had to do it.
The odd thing is, in early October of 1982, when they came to arrest me, I had put my life pretty well together. That was surely a first for me! At that time I had a wife and child. I pretty well settled down.
Cutting a long story short, I was charged with the murder of Art Smith, the manager of Rinks department store in Bellefontaine, Ohio. This crime happened in October 1979. It was a thorn in the Prosecutors side. He had to solve this crime.
When I went to trial for this murder, the only evidence they had against me was an inmate doing 37 to 130 years in Lucasville, Ohio’s maximum security prison. And his wife. Both of these people were indicted for this murder, plus several other crimes. They cut a deal, received immunity for all their other crimes, and otherwise made out very well for testifying against me.
There was no physical evidence to convict me. Only the word of two lying snitches.
The system is not about justice, or convicting only the guilty. Mr Prosecutor can convict anybody he pleases! It takes nothing to convict an innocent person.
Upon being convicted, I was sentenced to life in prison.
It took nearly three years to get the courts opinion on my direct appeal.
My family and I, we just knew the courts of appeals would throw this case out. Wrong!
After my direct appeal I was on my own. I had no money and couldn’t get any help from any lawyers.
My trial attorneys will tell you they believe I am innocent of this crime, but no money, no help! Money is what it is all about!!
Fighting a murder conviction pro se from the Walls of Lucasville, with no outside help was pure hell! That is one learning experience I will never forget.
As my case was turned down in court after court, all the way to the US Supreme court, I lost all hope. I outright lost any will to live. Many times I prayed for the Lord to take my life! I really felt there was no need to go on. As the old story goes, I lost my family. Life is only a big deal to the living!
One thing for sue, fighting my conviction pro se, I really discovered there is just no thing as justice. Being innocent means nothing!
April 11, 1993 a riot broke out in Lucasville. I became a spokesman with high hopes of bringing the situation to a peaceful ending.
Telling the story the way it is, don’t take me wrong, I am not looking to claim hero status or anything of that nature, but at the onset of that riot I put my very life on the line to get this injured Officer out of the riot. It is in the record. I saved lives in that riot, but you will not hear much about it.
The bottom line is, I was charged with 3 murders and kidnappings.
The powers that be used every dirty trick and pressure tactics to gain a conviction for all the above mentioned crimes.
They had no physical evidence. They had the uncorroborated word of their snitches. Inmates cutting deals and getting away with murder.
All this info is a matter of record.
One would not think that the justice system works like this.
After my conviction of the riot related charges all the records my trial attorney was passed onto my attorneys that would handle my appeal. Please see Exhibit A of this writing. This info could have been most useful in my trial. I had no knowledge such info even existed. Looks to me as if somebody was looking into my original conviction.
Let’s take a look at inmate Lavelle. He was one of the prosecutions top snitches. It matters not that you will find tons of proof that Lavelle is guilty of several serious crimes in that riot.
Please see Exhibit B (on the left) of this writing, transcript page 4047. When a prosecutor threatens somebody like this, “you are either going to be my witness, or I am going to come back and try to kill you” how could a jury believe Lavelle? How can Mr Prosecutor get away with this?
The powers that be came at me trying to get me to snitch. I would not help them. It matters not who committed what crime. If an inmate would snitch and lie for Mr Prosecutor he could get away with murder.
Please see Exhibit C (Exh. 3 on the left – eds) of this writing. Mr Prosecutor admits on record that I had the chance to snitch. See Transcript page 5751. Does this tell the story or what?
I could have been sitting on that witness stand testifying against Lavelle. This whole ordeal is pretty hard to believe. It is hard to believe a prosecutor would admit to such a thing on record. Guess he was pretty sure of himself.
What does a convicted person do when he can prove he did not commit the crime but courts drag their feet on hearing his appeal?
It took 7 long years for the court to render their opinion in my direct appeal.
My post conviction was just ruled on. Of course they turned me down. At least now I can get on to the next court.
It is my opinion that the powers that be plan to wait me out, let me die right here in this rat trap cell. I have been dealing with a medical problem for almost 11 years. They will not tell me the truth about this condition. Over the years I have heard every story they could think of. Getting any real help is out of the question!
I suffer with this problem every day. They hope I will die in here soon. That is my opinion. That way they can get rid of a big problem, me!
They know I am innocent. Most people would think I’m crazy after they read this, but this is just the way it is. The powers that be will do anything to keep from admitting they are wrong.
If I sound off the wall here, I am very sorry, please forgive me. Nobody can walk through such a hell on earth and come out of it with all his faculties.
This may not be the place to bring this subject up, but it would no doubt help me so much if I could write about a big problem I have.
After going through the fight of my life with my original conviction, I surely lost all hope, I really lost my will to live. It is so hard, if not outright impossible to bounce back. Over the years a couple of people wrote to me only to hear nothing in return. For that I am so very sorry. I really want to get up and do better in the fighting of this injustice. I am just so paralyzed. Nobody would ever believe the head changes, the serious mood swings I go through in this cell because I didn’t write and all. No doubt about it, people have to think I didn’t care. Please believe me that is not at all the case. What this system, the power people, Mr Prosecutor, the Judge, etc have done to my loved ones as well as myself, it is too hard to live with. This is killing me with the passing of each day. Please don’t think that I believe my case is the only case like this!
There is a lot of raw injustice right here on Ohio’s death row. We need somebody to really do an honest study of these cases!! The results would blow your mind!
It is a miracle I am writing this! I want to get up and fight what they have done to all of us. Just writing this makes me feel so good! I really want people to really know and understand me! Kick me! Push me! Make me get up! I need to see something positive come all of this!!
There has been so much done to expose this injustice, but nothing ever happens, at least it seems that way.
These evil power people are so wrong for what they have done to us. Oh, let me speak my mind, please hear my cry for justice!! I really need to see and know there are people who will help us right this wrong!
It is outright insane to know the powers that be gained all these convictions with the use of pressure tactics, bribery and intimidation of inmate witnesses!!
To this very day I have to ask myself, is this really happening? How in the world can this be?
The plea bargain action, if you snitch, you can commit murder and get away with it! Just check into the Lucasville riot-related trials! You will see this very thing took place. People committed murder that night, and because they snitched, said what Mr Prosecutor wanted them to say, they walked!
Just think of having your whole life wiped out, sitting on death row waiting for the courts to set a date for you to be murdered. This is unreal. Sitting here facing death on the word of some jail house snitch. The uncorroborated word of a jail house snitch.! Is this really justice? Is it okay that the system works like this? If it is, please take me to Lucasville and murder me now.!! I have so had my fill of this evil injustice system!
The thoughts that run through my head, the courts are a joke! They are never wrong! They are not about justice. The system protects itself.
People such as myself, we come a dime a dozen. Our lives are meaning less to these power people. Every single day I think of how the courts, the judges all have total control of my life. I believe they plan to slow walk my case through all these courts, making me do as much time as possible. I have this medical problem and can’t get it taken care of. So the bottom line is, the plan to let me die right here in this rat trap cell. I live with these thoughts!! I am not really crazy! I just fully understand and know how very evil the powers that be are! My life really means nothing to them!
I am asking you, all the people that read this, please take me serious. Please show me that you the people are willing to unite and fight this injustice system! I need this more than anything! There is just no way that I can go on in this hell hole for years and years to come. I am at my wits end.
It is my dream to see something positive come from this writing! I want to help others expose their injustices too! Please just hear my plea. Push me! Fire me up and bring me out of this rut! Let’s get something done about the way these evil Power people destroy so many lives for their own gain!!
In closing, I will say thank you for hearing me out. Write and help the innocent people in these rat trap prisons.
George W. Skatzes
P. O. Box 5500
15802 State Route 104 North
Chillicothe, OH 45601