Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ohio's Prison Privatization Plan Falls Short

Last week,  Ohio became the first state in the nation to sale a state prison to a private buyer, according to the Columbus Dispatch.  The sale of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Ashtabula County brought in $72.7 million.  State officials say the private prison could save taxpayer up to $3 million a year.

Many observers in Ohio were surprised when the state announced the sale of only one prison. Governor John Kasich had said as many as five prisons would be sold in a corrections reorganization. 

Following the sale, Ohio Corrections Director Gary C. Mohr immediately announced an aggressive reorganization and legislative agenda that he suggested, if accomplished, would transform the system.

The Dispatch reported the reorganization would include:

• Reintegration prisons. These will house lowest-security inmates serving shorter sentences before their release. Inmates will work eight hours a day “at productive jobs,” Mohr said. “I want to put inmates to work. We’re going to do a time sheet every day.” Potential jobs range from light manufacturing to truck-driver training.
• General-population prisons. These will be transitional facilities, where inmates will concentrate on education, training and community re-entry programs.

• Control prisons. These are for the truly bad guys — gang members, those with a history of violence behind bars and inmates serving long or life sentences. The Mansfield Correctional Institution is the first to be transformed; 80 of the most serious offenders statewide already have been transferred there.

According to the Dispatch the initiative also has a legislative component including:

• Expand “earned credit” for all inmates, not just new ones, as allowed under the recently adopted criminal-sentencing overhaul.

• Increase “transitional control,” which allows inmates to be transferred to community residential facilities in the last six months of their sentence.
• Reduce “collateral sanctions,” such as the loss of a driver’s license, that prevent ex-offenders from effectively re-entering society.

• Allow sentence reductions for inmates employed in reintegration prisons.

To read more:  http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2011/09/04/prison-chief-is-working-to-reshape-the-system.html

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