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Friday, March 1, 2013

Violence on rise at private prison

Safety and security problems are plaguing Ohio’s privately owned and operated prison, with assaults, fights and use of force on the rise, a state report concludes.

Illegal drugs are prevalent, with one inmate dying of a heroin overdose at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut, according to the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee report issued last week. The unannounced prison visit by the committee of legislators and staff occurred on Jan. 22-23.

The report cited several areas where the prison, owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America of Nashville, Tenn., needs improvement: inmate-on-inmate assaults rose 188 percent from 2010 through 2012, with inmate-on-staff assaults increasing 306 percent over the same period.

“Staff interviews, inmate focus groups, the inmate survey and institutional data all indicate that personal safety is at risk,” the report said. “Assaults, fights, disturbances and uses of force have all increased in comparison to prior years. There is a high presence of gang activity and illegal-substance use. Inmates reported frequent extortion and theft.”

Staff turnover is high and morale low, the committee found.

The state sold the prison housing about 1,800 inmates to the private operator effective on Jan. 1, 2012. The state contracts with the company to house low- and mid-level offenders. Before the sale, the prison was operated under a state contract with Management & Training Corporation of Centerville, Utah. Thus, the three-year period reviewed by the committee spanned operations by both companies…….State report: Violence on rise at private prison | The Columbus Dispatch

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