Monday, June 24, 2013

Ohio's private prison out of control

In Ohio, privatizing the prisons was part of a plan to help get the state out of its multi-billion dollar hole. Instead, the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, another CCA-owned prison, is overcrowded, with up to three inmates in single-inmate cells, and the spaces in which the inmates live are smaller than the law requires, reported the website .

According to an article in The Huffington Post, correctional officers said that they “had lost the prison within 3 months” of CCA taking it over, because the company was so afraid of being sued that they tied the officers’ hands when it came to pretty much everything. The officers themselves were so afraid of getting killed at work that they would often talk amongst themselves about who was going to die first.

Officer turnover at the prison is around 20% or so per year, and the new corrections officers that come in are less experienced and don’t know the Lake Erie facility at all. Furthermore, because of the profit motive, CCA has incentive to cut costs anywhere it can, and does so by eliminating inmate activities, staff, and reducing staff wages, which, according to experts, inevitably leads to a loss of quality in service.

 CCA also extracted a 90% occupancy rate guarantee from Ohio. Gangs essentially run the prison, and there are inmates who request to go into isolation just get away from the gangs.

In addition to all of that, calls to the police from the surrounding area have also risen sharply, due growing numbers of people throwing things from outside the prison, such as bags of drugs, cell phones and alcohol, over the fence to the inside of the prison. No need to smuggle anything in, just toss it over the fence! There aren’t enough guards to stop you.

Ohio is trying to get CCA to improve conditions there, but with so many violations across so many states, they probably shouldn’t expect much and would be better served to cut their ties with CCA as well, though their current contract, which is for 20 years, may not allow that.

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