Staughton Lynd's Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising, is a compelling book. So compelling, in fact, that it left me wanting to read more.

Lynd and his wife, Alice, have spent several years reviewing the massive official record of the events involving the deadly 1993 riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility and the state's vengeful pursuit of five inmates who helped bring the uprising to a peaceful conclusion. To show its thanks for their efforts, the state tried and condemned them to death for the murders of a correctional officer and some of the nine inmates killed during the uprising.

But Lynd shows convincingly how state officials were as much to blame for the riot and 10 deaths as any of the "Lucasville Five." Lynd bares the arrogance and outright stupidity of official decisions and statements in greater depth than Ohio's news media -- which fanned the flames of revenge with their irresponsible and inaccurate coverage of the event -- ever have.  

Lynd makes a strong case that none of the five men now on death row had a direct role in the death of Officer Robert Vallandingham. Instead, he offers convincing evidence that the man most responsible for this murder was the state's star witness, Anthony Lavelle, leader of the Black Gangster Disciples.  

Lynd then shows how the state -- led by Special Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier, a Hamilton County prosecutor known for doing almost anything to win cases, and the state's lead investigator/intimidator, Howard Hudson -- took steps to assure inmates charged in the riot's aftermath would be inadequately defended and convicted on the word of unseemly witnesses who said whatever it took to save their own necks.  

Rather than ensure fair trials for the accused, Lynd shows, Ohio's courts became willing accomplices in the prosecutor's scheme. Lynd singles out the Ohio Supreme Court for its rubber-stamp decisions on the cases it has thus far reviewed by issuing opinions that either ignored or misstated the facts.

  Although Lynd gets sidetracked from presenting those facts at times, the attorney-activist still presents a powerful argument that the main culprits in the Lucasville riot were Ohio's petty prison officials and politicians, not the inmates who unjustly suffered the consequences of their actions. Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising should be essential reading for anyone who cares about true justice.  

Martin Yant is an award-winning journalist, private investigator and author. His most recent book is Rotten to the Core 2: More Crime, Sex and Corruption in Johnny Appleseed's Hometown. Visit him at