An open letter to ODRC Director Gary C. Mohr

-For Posting-

Dear Director Mohr: 05 Nov 12

We both know that you are now carrying out a plan to have me murdered. You are having me framed for prison rule violations to have me transferred to higher security where it is arranged that I will be permanently silenced, all because I challenged the legality of JPay in an on-line article and threatened the profit margins of your friends and you, and all investors in JPay.

On 12 September I was a model prisoner; on 19 September I was placed in a torture cell and treated as a terrorist. What transpired between those two dates? A friend of mine wrote to me and in the mail screening, staff saw print-outs from I was then segregated, branded a gang leader, accused of inciting a riot, and accused of furthering non-existent criminal activity – all without evidence to support any of those claims.

You and I know what I really did; I stood in the way of your get-rich scheme – and now a reporter from New York City is researching JPay and its legality. That is the reason you are having me framed, and why you intend to have me murdered.
I’m writing this to let you know that I won’t try to stop you. I accept what is going to happen. I suspect it has to happen, just as it had to happen that an Egyptian merchant had to immolate himself before his countrymen could be provoked to sweep away a corrupt system and strive for freedom. I accept that you will have me killed. But before I die, I think it is appropriate that you should know who I am. I would like to take the time to share with you my account of the life you will be ending.
My parents Paul and Nancy were poor. My dad worked full time but had no health coverage, so when I was born, he had to spend nights and weekends digging a basement by hand to pay off the hospital bill. I’m their only child.

My dad was lucky to get hired at Ford, and when I was 3 years old, we moved to Michigan because the plant in Iowa closed. I grew up in a small town called Anchorville, Michigan. We lived in a trailer park my Gramma lived with us because her health was bad, so when other children made fun of me because of where we lived, I knew the real reason we lived in a trailer park was that my dad was a good man who supported his mother in law when her 4 sons didn’t.

I grew up at the feet of my Gramma. She told me stories from before I was born, mostly of my Grandfather who died before I came along. My Grandfather lived through the Great Depression and when others would hire traveling workers to do yard-worked for food and feed them on the porch, my Grandfather invited them to eat at the table with his family – if they worked or not. He had his own heating & plumbing business run from his garage and when my Gramma had told him they couldn’t afford to feed those men, he said, “We can’t afford not to.” He always wiped his feet on the white rug she kept at the kitchen door, and she’d yell at him for it every day. When he died, after the funeral, my Gramma was in the kitchen and started crying. She pointed toward the door and said, “Well look there, I still have that damned white rug.” She never remarried. He was the only man she ever loved.

I grew up on stories of my Grandpa’s honesty and hard work and compassion.

We got a kitten when I was little but she kept falling over and her back end would pass her front end when she was running. My mom took her to the vet who explained that the kitten’s mom had had distemper and the kitten had brain damage. My mom then called the pet store & told me the store would take the kitten back if we wanted another one. I absolutely refused. I said “What if we can love her like she is but nobody else can?” and the reason I felt that way was because I stuttered, and other kids could be mean, but my parents & Gramma loved me as I was. Didn’t that kitten deserve the same from me?

We named her Casey.

I collected just about every stray cat in the universe.

In school, teachers wanted to advance me in grades but my mom resisted. Who wants to be 3 years younger than their classmates?

I was really shy because I stuttered, up to high school, I stove to be invisible. I lived completely petrified that I would be noticed. I had outgrown my stutter, but I still stuttered on the inside. Then, in high school, I took the journalism class and ended up on the school paper. I wrote & people responded. It turned out, almost everybody felt the way I did, and what I wrote, everyone else identified with. I found my own voice and others found their voice through me.

Paul Rogers, the journalism instruction, owned the local paper and was an attorney. He hired me to write for the local paper and I learned first amendment law from him. Good journalism challenged power & kept power honest. It stopped government form becoming a bully. According to Mr. Rogers, good journalism was “something to offend everyone.” If my writing did not challenge anyone, what use was it? The editor had a poster in his office with the faces of Hitler, Stalin, and other dictators. The caption under it said “The experts agree: censorship works.” So it was out of patriotism & belief in freedom that writers speak truth to power… no matter the personal consequences.

My dad’s job transferred to Sandusky, Ohio. After high school, I joined the army. I believed in my country & in freedom, but in my time in the service I saw that this nation does not do what it says it does. Contrary to the great story, this country pushes people around & causes suffering & resorts to dirty tricks. So I left the service after one enlistment.

Returning to Sandusky, I was disillusioned and lonely. I got involved with Diane Chiow, who had 2 children from 2 previous, abusive relationships. The father of her younger son, Andrew Crouch, had tried to light her on fire; hit her while she was pregnant; threw her down stairs; fought responding police. But he was the nephew of the clerk of courts, so he didn’t have to answer for his crimes.

He kicked in my apartment door, threatened me, and reached for what I believed was a weapon. In a panic I stabbed him and then called 911. Police responded, covering up proof of the break-in that I have only recently received – photos that withheld at trial.

I passed a polygraph. I got out on a $2,000 bond payment while charged with murder and I didn’t flee like a guilty man would have.

I was convicted of a crime I didn’t commit. The appeals court said my trial was unfair and ordered a fair one by the trial court refused to follow the order. By Ohio law, your law, Mr. Mohr, I have been held for 21 years without a legal conviction or sentence.

In these decades of imprisonment, I have lost respect for the justice & corrections systems. I have seen abuse & corruption, suffering, brutality, & trauma. So much so, it seems to me that the system is not broke, but designed this way.

I studied psychology and was fortunate to have caring professors. They sent me boxes of books. I read everything about crime and justice and rehabilitation, and came to see that if your system, Mr. Mohr, really wanted to reform offenders, it does everything almost perfectly wrong. And that’s why you spend billions to fail more than 80% of the time.
Crime is a big business.

If you mangle prisoners, you guarantee future crime.

You create a pool of unemployables used by big business to depress worker wages.

I was very naïve. I get involved in reform, thinking if only people in power like you knew what was really going on…

I was told to shut up.

When I reported crimes against prisoners as any good citizen should, I was targeted as a whistle-blower. I was assaulted and subjected to trauma. I was transferred to higher security.

I wrote a book. It’s called Freedom: the Insight, Rage, and Fury of Political Prisoner Sean Swain. Long title, I know. And I’m a political prisoner because I never committed a crime and I am in prison because the state breaks its own laws to keep me here.
When the state breaks laws to punish a prisoner who doesn’t, that is not justice.

A year after I wrote that book, prison officials punished me for it, lying and claiming I wrote something I never wrote. And please, don’t take my word for it. Read Freedom for yourself. I didn’t encourage a work stoppage. I made prison officials mad because I told the truth.

I had the audacity to act like a good citizen.

Your system punished me for it, and I knew that such a false report on my record would prevent me from getting parole,
A parole for a crime I didn’t commit.

A parole from an invalid conviction & sentence.

My parents are old, I need to get home. I’m an only child.

So, I had to go to court to get that false report out of my record. But the chief inspector, Gary Croft, wouldn’t let me get to court. I had to sue him to get him to answer grievance appeals so I could proceed to court; then I suffered retaliation because I was suing people, but I never wanted to; I only wanted that lie out of my file so I could get parole.

My parents are old. I’m an only child.

In prison, I received my college degree, took a vocational trade, took every program available to me, and donated thousands of hours to community service until the day you shut the program down. In 20 years, I had not one single fight, no drug use, no alcohol, no violence, not one single serious rule infraction.

I’m not a criminal

I passed a polygraph.

I was released on $2,000 & didn’t run.

My conviction was reversed and I never received the fair trial required by Ohio law.

I just wanted that lie taken out of my file. Federal Judge Jack Zouhary dismissed my case (Swain v. Fullenkamp, et. Al. U.S. District case #3:09-cv-02659). I urge you to read what I filed.

I went before the local panel of the parole board last September. I had served 20 years. They recommended me to a full board hearing, where my counsel, Andrea Reino, could present my case & show the photos of the break-in that police withheld at trial.

But the parole board never notified my counsel. They ignored statute, ignored law, and held the full board hearing without my attorney. And they gave me 5 more years to serve.

They said I need more programs even though I took everything available to me.

They said I need to improve my conduct record even though I may be the best-behaved Ohio prisoner in history.

They said facts of the case that resulted in a 20 to life sentence warranted serving 25 years.

Did I mention that former chief inspector Gary Croft was on the parole board and that he gave me 5 years and violated the law while I had a civil action still pending against him?

My trial court broke the law.

My captors broke the law.

The parole board broke the law.

Do you see a pattern? I do.

I want to get home. My parents are old. I’m an only child. So, this September, I had my status lowered so I could go to Marion to get programs unavailable here. I was to go to medium security.

Seven days later I was put in a torture cell for 48 hours until friends protested my treatment. I’ve been in segregation ever since. I’ve been charged & found guilty of gang activity even though investigator Angela M. Hunsinger admits I engaged in none of these activities promoted by The Army of the 12 Monkeys, the gang she says I formed. I was found guilty of inciting a riot even though investigator Hunsinger admitted I had no connection to any inciteful material. I was found guilty of using mail to further criminal activity because I sent an open letter for publication to a website, which investigator Hunsinger admitted was not a crime, and the open letter is still posted on-line – with no one charged with a crime.

I’m hoping the recorded disciplinary hearing will be made available publicly so all Ohio tax-payers can hear what your underlings forced them to pay for. I would be glad to make it available at You could order that. I think you should.

Investigator Hunsinger says my “ideology” matches the 12 Monkeys. She says I am an anarchist and so are the 12 Monkeys. But the fact is, I am an indigenist. The chaplains here approved my change of religion to Indigenist. The warden here granted my religious accommodations. But because as an Indigenist I believe our creator designed us for non-hierarchial, tribal life, investigator Hunsinger calls me an “anarchist.” So, because I believe tribal structure is superior to rigid hierarchies, my “ideology” matches a gang who flushes toilets to break pipes.

That is the case to justify sending me to maximum security. So, I think we both know – and the whole world now knows – I’m not being sent to Lucasville for gang activity, or incitements, or using mail for non-existent crimes. No, I’m being sent to Lucasville because your staff discovered between 12 September & 19 September, and Lucasville is where you try to send critics like Timothy “Little Rock” Reed, who was granted asylum by the New Mexico Supreme Court when he proved Ohio prison administrators planned ot have him sent to Lucasville where staff would murder him – to silence his published criticism.

I’m not a criminal.

I passed a polygraph.

I never received the fair trial that Ohio law required.

The parole board broke the law to keep me in prison.

And now I’m going to die in prison at Lucasville, because I opposed the illegal transfer of my elderly parents’ private information to identity pirates in Florida without my parents’ consent.

Your friends’ profits matter more than my life, that my parents, than my friends and extended family.

You should be ashamed.

For my part, I won’t stop you. You and the Ohio prisons have been killing me in installments for a long time. You’ve murdered my children before they were born. You destroy lives as a part of a profit-driven industry.

Again, you should be ashamed.

For purposes of your future and the future of JPay, it doesn’t matter what you do to me. You can send me to Lucasville or you can check out what I’ve written here & order a rehearing by the parole board, leading to my release. Either way it doesn’t matter, Investigative journalists are investigating JPay and the illegal information transfer you facilitated. Its only a matter of time before that scandal breaks.

But if you want me sent to Lucasville to die, I won’t talk you out of it., I don’t’ think I’m significant enough to be such a target, and I think you overestimate my importance. I think you’ve made a critical error by elevating me to this position. I suspect it will be even worse for you & your shameful, corrupt system, when you exile and martyr me. I think you have already made your own situation impossible. By killing me, you will create 5 more of me. And then 10. and then 50.

You will get tired of killing me before I get tired of dying.

But your biggest problem isn’t prisoners. The world now knows who I am, and the world knows who you are. And the world knows what is happening here.

The eyes of the world are watching.

Nobody likes a bully.

If you send me to Lucasville to die, you aren’t just killing me, you’are killing the illusion that holds millions captivated.
Just as the death of that merchant in Tahrir Square was the death of the Egyptian regime, I think perhaps sending me to die will signal the death of the Ohio prison system. And the death of the Ohio prison system is the death of this state of Ohio as we know it.

I’m thinking of that future.

I’m ready for you to kill me.

I will live on in those struggling to be free.

Freedom or death,
Sean Swain