Sean Swain says, “Abolish Ohio”

Anarchist Political Prisoner


Fifth Estate # 414, Fall 2023

a review of
Ohio by Sean Swain. Ardent Books

Ohio is the story of Sean Swain, a man wrongfully convicted and turned into an anarchist political prisoner in the state that bears the title of the book’s name.

He has been in prison in Ohio since 1991 on a murder charge, the self-defense killing of an abusive ex- of his then-girlfriend who had broken into his house and threatened his life.

Sean lays out the details of his case and in the process lays bare the clear, obvious corruption present in the American judicial and carceral system. But it goes much further than that.

Ohio also exposes the nepotism often found in the system, and shines a bright light on the lengths to which the state of Ohio will go, with federal complicity, to silence a person for speaking the truth about his innocence and particularly the depravity of his captors.

Sean defended himself from the drunken cousin of a local court clerk who had a lengthy criminal record which was regularly covered up by court employees. He won his case after a federal court ruled in his favor, but an Ohio state court promptly ignored the higher court instructions and put Sean in prison for life.

Tortured and labeled a terrorist, Sean became an anarchist in prison and was eventually shipped to a Virginia prison in a bid to prevent his parole eligibility.

There is more to this book than Sean’s personal story. It is also about the state of Ohio. Did you know that Ohio is not a legitimate state, according to Sean? He writes, it was chartered by a very small group of men (less than 50) in an open violation of United States treaties, laws, and congressional edicts.

When I read Ohio, I was left flabbergasted, yet strangely not surprised when I followed the rabbit hole of Sean’s research notes. If Ohio is completely illegitimate as a state, then by extension the entirety of the country must be viewed with a discerning eye, and perhaps open contempt.

All of this, Sean’s wrongful conviction (after winning his case), his treatment by state and federal employees as a means of silencing him, and the exposure of the state of Ohio’s lack of any legitimacy, all of it culminates in one sweeping, and rather profound statement by Swain: “As long as Ohio exists I will never be released from prison.” Sean calls for the abolition of Ohio.

It is like a George Carlin routine without the humor. More than that, it becomes a screaming call for all who want to see the prison system, the criminal justice system, and perhaps even the United States, one state at a time abolished.

There should be a concerted effort to get this book into the hands of prisoners and their families. There are too many stories similar to Sean’s, too many who need to know they are not alone, and that perhaps the time has come to act.

Sean makes it clear that the conclusion he has come to, one shared by many, is that there is a way forward and it does not involve the illegitimate courts.

David Annarelli is a wrongfully convicted political prisoner being unlawfully held captive by the state of Virginia after surviving an unprovoked assault by police in his own home during a mental health crisis.

Write to Sean

Sean Swain #A243205

OSP Youngstown

878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd

Youngstown, OH 44505