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Abraxas Ohio
Shelby, Ohio
Cornell Companies
Mar 17, 2017 wkyc.com
Investigator | Two courts now investigating claims against NE Ohio drug center
At least two Ohio juvenile courts are now investigating whether to continue sending teens to a drug treatment facility in the wake of an exclusive WKYC Channel 3 News investigation. Another county spokesman told The Investigator Tom Meyer that they stopped sending teens to the facility – Abraxas Ohio in Shelby - years ago because of abuse allegations. A team from Cuyahoga County Juvenile court visited Abraxas on Thursday. A spokeswoman said the team intended to interview four Cleveland-area boys currently housed at Abraxas. The team also planned to tour the facility. The court sent the team to the facility a day after a WKYC Channel 3 News report that focused on former Abraxas employees and clients, all of whom made allegations of physical abuse, sexual encounters with staff and little to no drug counseling. Abraxas Ohio is owned by the GEO Group, one of the nation’s largest private prison companies. They have denied any wrongdoing. A spokesman did not immediately respond for comment about Thursday’s development. “When the Court learned of the allegations today, we immediately dispatched a team to the facility to interview the four youths placed there from our Court and to inspect the facility.  If we find the allegations have any merit the Court will take immediate action which could include relocating our youth to another facility,” spokeswoman Mary Davidson said in an email. She declined to elaborate on the investigation. “We will share results when available,” she said. Orvel Johns, a spokesman for the Franklin County Juvenile Court, said on Thursday that the judges have ordered their own investigation of Abraxas. The move came after the court was made aware of the WKYC Channel 3 News report. “We are conducting our own review and investigation of the allegations and are likely to suspend referrals until we conclude that inquiry,” Johns said. Abraxas houses about 100 teenaged boys with addiction issues. The teens are primarily poor and Abraxas is paid through tax dollars. Ohio Medicaid paid more than $9 million last year. Summit County currently has five teens housed at Abraxas, Don Ursetti, a court spokesman, said  Thursday. Ursetti would not say if the court intends to investigate the facility as courts in Cuyahoga and Franklin counties have done. Rather, he said, Summit County juvenile court will "monitor" the developments and take action, if appropriate. Courts in Lake and Stark county stopped sending teens to Abraxas more than three years ago. A Stark County spokesman said a variety of reasons contributed to the decision, but abuse was not cited. Lake County Juvenile Court Judge Karen Lawson said Thursday that cuts in state funding caused her to seek other treatment options more than five years ago. She was not aware of any abuses.In Geauga County, however, the director of the county Jobs and Family Services said they stopped sending kids to Abraxas a few years ago after learning of complaints regarding excessive restraints and physical abuse.Ohio: Two courts concerned over GEO abuse allegations
of restraints and physical abuse.

Mar 15, 2017 wkyc.com

Investigator | Physical abuse, sex alleged at NE Ohio drug center for teens
Lynne Komar thought her son would get help when he was sent to a drug treatment center outside of Mansfield. “Connor came out worse,” the Parma mother said. She said her son, Connor, 17, received very little counseling for his marijuana use.  Instead, she alleges, the teen was physically abused by staff at Abraxas Ohio, a center owned by the GEO Group, one of the largest private prison companies in the U.S. “Connor got shoved a lot at Abraxas, he got pushed into walls…they restrained him with whatever restraints they had on four different occasions,” she said. “They tackled him, punched him...made him stay in his room for three days straight. “To see your son being at a place where he is supposed to get help and here he’s getting abused, it’s heartbreaking.” Former counselors and staff at Abraxas have come forward since WKYC Channel 3 News first reported allegations of misconduct earlier this month. The former employees allege Abraxas does little drug counseling, however, some staff manipulate progress reports and notes to collect millions of dollars in Medicaid payments. "I've been saying for years they're not doing treatment. They have people out there who will just watch cameras all day and delete footage," said Tim Batdorf, a former counselor at Abraxas Ohio. Several former workers contend that physical restraints are “commonplace” and often done in so-called “boom-boom rooms” outside the range of security cameras. On occasion, boys were grabbed, lifted and dropped onto the floor. “Restraints were pretty much a daily basis,” said Batdorf. “The attitude of getting in a kid’s face – that was commonplace out there…[Staff] purposely instigated fights with these kids.” Abraxas houses about 100 teenaged boys, most sent from juvenile courts throughout Ohio and neighboring states. Many of the teens come from poor families and Medicaid pays for their counseling and treatment that often lasts three to six months. A GEO Group spokesman denied any wrongdoing. They are currently embroiled in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former Abraxas employee. “These allegations do a disservice to the many dedicated employees who work hard every day to provide services for at-risk youth. Our youth programs adhere to strict standards set by state agencies and are frequently monitored to ensure that we meet state regulations,” said Pablo Paez, vice president of corporate relations. “Additionally, our youth programs are accredited by The Joint Commission – an independent organization that accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the U.S." Another former Abraxas worker, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation, said he’s aware of six co-workers who left the facility after engaging in sexual conduct with residents. “It took place out in the parking lot, took place outside, took place in offices,” he said. “Staff knows where the cameras are.” He agreed that little counseling was taking place and that the use of restraints and physical confrontations – oftentimes in violation of policy - were rampant. “It was overboard at times,” he said. He said he’s aware that some documents were altered to conform to government regulations. “They say they don’t falsify reports. Well I have reports that say different,” he said. “Taxpayers are getting ripped off. It’s all about money to them. All about how much they can make.”

Mar 1, 2017 wkyc.com
Whistleblower: Millions wasted at NE Ohio rehab center for teens
SHELBY - One of the nation’s largest private prison companies is defending itself against Medicaid fraud charges filed by a former clinical supervisor at an Ohio residential treatment center for teens. Lynn Roycroft’s federal lawsuit alleges Abraxas Ohio in Shelby, an all-male, treatment center owned by GEO Group Inc., billed the government for years on "false or fraudulent" claims, including counseling sessions never happened.“I would say it was a pretty egregious abuse of your tax dollars,” Roycroft told WKYC Channel 3 News. “Because treatment did not happen for the most part.” According to state Medicaid officials, Abraxas received more than $9 million in payments in 2016 and more than $33 million since 2012. Roycroft, who has spent 33 years in counseling, alleges the federal government was billed by Abraxas for group counseling sessions that were never held. She also alleges progress reports were “cut and pasted” from one resident to another. She also contends men and women who once worked blue collar jobs such as plumbers and roofers were hired by Abraxas, given a week of training and then acted as professional counselors for the 100 boys who were housed at the residential facility in Richland County. Abraxas, she said, misrepresented the credentials and qualifications of some counselors. The teens treated at Abraxas were generally sent to the facility to obtain counseling and treatment after having cases heard in juvenile courts across Ohio, including Cuyahoga and Summit counties. Aside from financial and billing irregularities, Roycroft says the teenage boys were often improperly restrained and that “counselors” spent more time “controlling behaviors” instead of providing counseling for drug and alcohol abuse. “The philosophy of the institution was to get as many kids in there as you could and bill [Medicaid] your three hours of group [counseling] a day, whether the groups happened or not,” Roycroft said. “To me, it’s just blatant fraud.” Pablo Paez, a GEO Group spokesman, said Roycroft’s lawsuit “has no merit” and that the company will defend it “vigorously.” He declined further comment. Abraxas Ohio’s director is Erich Dumbeck, who once headed the Huron County Department of Jobs and Family Services. In 2007, Dumbeck resigned in the wake of world-wide attention focusing his agency and a couple who kept their foster children in crudely built cages. Dumbeck declined comment. Lavonte Hinchen of Cleveland was twice sent to Abraxas for three-month stints in 2008 and 2009. He called the programming “a joke” and said teens were not provided counseling. “A lot of the friends I made there…you can look it up, they’re having problems today out on the streets,” said Hinchen. “They don’t know how to handle their problems day to day. “A lot of people’s tax dollars went in, but nothing came out of it.” That’s largely due to the lack of counseling and proper training of staff, Roycroft said. When she was hired in 2008, Roycroft said she was expected to address myriad problems inside the expansive residential center near Mansfield. Some group sessions never met, however, reports were filled out as if they did occur, she said. Those forms were then submitted to Medicaid for billing purposes. “It was totally out of control when I got there,” she said. “A lot of the time, I was really just spending trying to wrap my head around what I was being told.” The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, is pending. Roycroft is seeking unspecified damages. She and her attorney say taxpayers were defrauded, but the children and their families continue to suffer because they never received the help needed to overcome addictions or other mental health issues. “This is fraud,” said attorney Warner Mendenhall of Akron. “This is very abusive. The worst type of abuse because it’s victimizing the most vulnerable people in our society.”

August 4, 2010 Mansfield News Journal
A judge modified bond Tuesday for a former youth counselor at a Shelby residential treatment center who is accused of raping a 16-year-old girl. Randy Scott, 35, of Mifflin Township, had been held on a $500,000 cash bond after his May arrest. Last week, Richland County Common Pleas Judge James Henson granted a defense request to reduce the bond to $10,000 with 10 percent posting allowed. The state objected and requested Tuesday's hearing. Following testimony from two witnesses, Henson rescinded the previous bond. The new terms are $100,000 with 10 percent posting. If Scott posts bond, he will be monitored electronically and cannot have contact with the alleged victim. Scott is charged with four counts of rape, four counts of sexual battery, four counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of kidnapping with a sexual motivation specification. The alleged victim was not a resident at Abraxas, a residential program for males ages 12 to 18. Assistant Prosecutor Bambi Couch-Page wanted Henson to reconsider his previous decision to reduce Scott's bond. "The defendant cannot control himself sexually around minors," she said. Couch-Page called sheriff's deputy Pat Smith as a witness. Smith said there are two pending investigations against Scott. The more recent case involved alleged sexual conduct between Scott and a 16-year-old Abraxas boy. Scott has been fired, said Charles Seigel, a vice president for Cornell Companies, which operates Abraxas. The older case involved Scott's alleged sexual conduct with three females -- ages 13, 14 and 18 -- while he worked at Foundations for Living, a residential treatment facility on Ohio 39 South.

May 11, 2010 Mansfield News Journal
A youth counselor at a Shelby residential treatment center was arrested and charged with the rape of a 16-year-old, officials said Monday. Randy Lamont Scott, 35, of Mifflin Township, is incarcerated at the Richland County Jail on $500,000 bond after pleading not guilty Friday morning to a single count of rape, a first-degree felony. A spokesman for Abraxas, the Shelby youth rehab center where Scott worked, said he was placed on nonadministrative, unpaid leave last week. The child, who is not part of the Abraxas program, has received a medical exam and counseling, according to Carl Hunnell, a Children Services spokesman. "We were notified on May 5, at 5:34 p.m., on the allegations," Hunnell said. "We're working with the sheriff's department on the investigation of the victim due to the age." Richland County Sheriff's Deputy Pat Smith declined to say much about Scott, citing the ongoing investigation, but alluded to a "period of abuse." Scott was a "life skills worker" at Abraxas and was responsible for leading group sessions and supervising group activities on weekends, said Charles Seigel, a vice president for Cornell Companies, which operates Abraxas. Scott had worked at the facility for less than two years and passed a background check and drug tests, which Seigel said were routine for incoming employees. While he has not been fired, Seigel said the company likely wouldn't wait for the legal case to be resolved. "Anything that would be a felony would be pretty much automatic," Seigel said. "We'll take a look at the situation." The Shelby facility's 108-bed residential program, "incorporates an intensive group curriculum focusing on decision-making, goal-setting, self-esteem, sex education and relapse process/prevention," according to the company's website.

Annashae Corp
Ohio
August 26, 2003
A contractor who provides physicians work in Ohio prisons says the state's progressively lower spending limits are causing the company to hire doctors with less training, a newspaper and television station reported.  The prison system has reduced medical costs by using contract caps to gradually pay less to the companies providing the doctors who work in prison clinics.  A Cleveland company that provides contract services, Annashae Corp., said the reduced payments limit the quality of doctors it can hire to care for inmates, the Columbus Dispatch and WBNS-TV reported Monday in the second installment of a two-part series on medical care in Ohio's prisons.  ``If you're offering less than a doctor could make at a private clinic or emergency room, how are you going to sell that physician on working with maximum-security or medium-security inmates in a remote area of Ohio?'' said Christopher Pasiadis, Annashae's chief operating officer.  (Ohio.com)

Columbiana County Jail
Leetonia, Ohio
Community Education Centers (bought CiviGenics)

Jun 3, 2017 salemnews.net
Warden at jail leaves after 2 months
LISBON — The revolving door at the Columbiana County Jail continues, with the latest warden leaving after only two months on the job. County Commissioner Mike Halleck confirmed that Mike Porter left about two weeks ago to return to his home and family in Texas. He said it is his understanding Porter resigned for personal reasons. Porter was the fourth new warden in less than two years. The revolving door began late in 2015, when Edward Sheldon was hired to replace longtime warden Gary Grimm. Sheldon lasted until February 2016, when he quit to take another job and was replaced by Frank Kaman, who left in the summer of 2016 after a few months. He was followed by Roy Morrison, who quit this past March and was replaced by Porter. Halleck remains unconcerned by the turnover in the warden position as long as they remain satisfied with how the jail is operated, and they are, he said. Community Education Centers, the private company hired by commissioners to operate the 192-bed jail, was acquired by the GEO Group in February. “This is just the nature of the business,” Halleck said of the turnover in the top position, adding that filling the warden position is GEO’s responsibility. “It doesn’t concern us because we are charged the same either way.” As for GEO, “They’ve made some changes we’re pleased with,” he said. Halleck has dismissed any suggestion the merry-go-round in wardens contributed to an incident that occurred last October, when three inmates overdosed nearly simultaneously on the same batch of heroin smuggled into the jail. He said preventing contraband from being smuggled into jails is a constant problem faced by every jail in the country. He said commissioners routinely make unannounced visits to the jail to see for themselves how things are being run.

November 17, 2011 Salem News
A former employee of Civigenics, the company which provides prison management at the Columbiana County Jail filed a wrongful termination suit Tuesday in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court. Stephen Crea, East Liverpool, claims age discrimination was behind the company releasing him on May 19. He was 60 years old when he was let go and the person who replaced him was under 40. Warden Gary Grimm reportedly told him "it is better that we part ways now" and let him go without further explanation, according to court documents. Besides lost wages and benefits, the court documents also allege Crea's civil rights were violated. He is seeking in excess of $25,000 in damages.

December 10, 2010 The Review
A former Columbiana County Jail inmate won $262,850 in damages from a fellow inmate he said assaulted him for refusing to bring in contraband after returning from work release. Jeffrey Woodburn, of Lisbon, formerly of Wellsville, won a default judgment against Aaron Holt of East Liverpool in October after Judge C. Ashley Pike of Common Pleas Court found Holt liable for damages. Last month a hearing was held to determine the amount of damages, with a judgment entry signed this week to outline the breakdown. According to the entry, Woodburn was awarded $12,850 for compensatory damages, $100,000 in monetary damages for pain and suffering and $150,000 in punitive damages for a total of $262,850. Court costs accrued after other defendants were dismissed were taxed to Holt . The entry also prohibited Holt from trying to discharge the judgment in a bankruptcy proceeding. Woodburn filed the complaint in July 2009 over a July 23, 2008 incident inside the jail when some fellow inmates assaulted him because he said he refused to bring them cigarettes and drugs when he returned from work release. He had been in jail for domestic violence, but had work release privileges, meaning he could leave the jail to go to work and then come back. According to the lawsuit, Woodburn had reported the threats made against him to jail personnel who placed him in protective custody in his own cell in a separate section of the lockup. The document said security measures were breached when Holt, and a few other inmates were able to enter his cell and beat him, resulting in injuries and hospitalization. An assault charge was filed against Holt but was later dismissed. Apparently he was unavailable because the jail permitted him to be transported out of the county, according to court entries. There were no charges filed against the other two known inmates, David Crow of Wellsville and Derrick Howard of Youngstown. The lawsuit had been filed against Holt, Crow and Howard, along with the company operating the jail, Community Education Centers Inc., part of CiviGenics Texas, and the Columbiana County Commissioners. The claims against everyone except for Holt had been dropped.

December 3, 2010 Vindicator
A charge of domestic violence has been dismissed against a man who was injured when he jumped from a second story Columbiana County jail-cell block Nov. 16. Ronald E. Davie, 28, of Calcutta Smith Road, East Liverpool, suffered serious head injuries. The jail is run by a private company, CiviGenics Inc. of Milford, Mass. Columbiana County Prosecutor Robert Herron said that Sheriff Ray Stone suggested that the charge should be dropped to save the county money. Davie was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown. The county would have to pay a deputy to watch Davie in the hospital. Herron said the county had initially made arrangements with security officials at the hospital to monitor Davie. Herron said he did not know who would care for Davie. Davie’s father, William Davie of St. Clair Township, said, “They just threw him to the wolves. ... I don’t know what is going to happen.”

November 18, 2010 Vindicator
Peter Argeropulos, the chief operating officer for CiviGenics Inc. in Milford, Mass., was unavailable Wednesday to comment about reports that an inmate in the Columbiana County jail severely injured himself Tuesday by jumping from a second-story cell block. CiviGenics, a private company, runs the jail. County Sheriff Ray Stone referred questions about the incident to CiviGenics. The warden at the jail who works for CiviGenics was not available.

October 13, 2010 Vindicator
The Columbiana County sheriff’s office is investigating the death of Amy Fortune, 35, of Main Street, Minerva, found dead Saturday morning in her Columbiana County jail cell. Sheriff Ray Stone said she was serving three days for driving while under a license suspension. Stone said that she was then going to be transferred to the Tuscarawas County jail on a charge of assault on a corrections officer. Peter Argeropulos, the chief operating officer for CiviGenics Inc., of Milford, Mass., the private company that runs the county jail, said that Fortune was in a cell with another woman. The second woman left the cell to help prepare breakfast for the other inmates about 5:30 a.m. An officer making rounds in the jail found Fortune on the floor of the cell. CPR was administered, and she was taken to Salem Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy was performed at the Cuyahoga County coroner’s office, but Columbiana County Coroner Dr. William Graham has not issued a ruling.

August 11, 2010 The Review
A lawsuit filed against the private operator of the Columbiana County Jail and the county commissioners has been dismissed, but remains against inmates who assaulted another inmate. Jeffrey Woodburn of Lisbon, formerly of Wellsville, filed the complaint in July 2009 over a July 2008 attack which occurred after he refused to bring tobacco and drugs to the other inmates when he returned to the lockup from work release. A recent judgment entry said the complaint was settled and dismissed against Community Education Centers Inc. and CiviGenics Texas, along with the county board of commissioners, only, at the defendant's costs. The entry didn't note the terms of the settlement. The case apparently remains against the inmates who were named as defendants in the lawsuit, including Aaron Holt of East Liverpool, David Crow of Wellsville and Derrick Howard of Youngstown. The claims against the jail operator and commissioners included alleged negligence and a security breach which Woodburn alleged led to the attack. The lawsuit said Woodburn reported the threats to jail personnel who placed him in protective custody in his own cell in a separate section of the jail. The document said security measures were breached on July 23, 2008 when Holt, Crow, Howard and possibly a fourth inmate were able to enter Woodburn's cell and beat him, requiring hospitalization.

July 22, 2010 The Salem News
A Lisbon woman fired from her job as a corrections officer at the Columbiana County Jail filed a lawsuit Wednesday to challenge the action as discriminatory based on her gender, her age and her religion. Janet Logan, state Route 164, named four defendants in her complaint, including the private company operating the jail, CiviGenics Texas Inc., doing business as Community Education Centers Inc. Other defendants include supervisor Peter Neiheisel, a lieutenant and chief of operations for the jail, assistant jail warden Jay Nolte and jail warden Gary Grimm. Logan started working for CiviGenics as a corrections officer on April 28, 1998. On Jan. 21 of this year, she was suspended from her job for three days for allegedly fighting with a corrections officer, then she was told on Jan. 25 that she was terminated. In the lawsuit, Logan contended that she was wrongfully suspended and terminated for alleged "unsatisfactory work performance" based on allegations that she fought with another corrections officer and discussed staff with inmates. She claimed the allegations weren't true. Her contention was that she was discriminated against because she was a woman, because she was 50 years old and because of her religious belief that she not work on Sundays. She claimed she was replaced by a male corrections officer and since 2001 was continuously passed over for promotions. In late 2009, she said she was reduced to one or two days a week while male officers continued to work their schedules without a reduction. She also claimed males were treated more favorably, females were hired in less numbers than males and a statement was made that "females do not belong in this workplace." As for her religious beliefs, she said she told the previous warden and assistant warden about her practice and was told she would be scheduled on Monday through Thursday and be put in a full-time position when a slot became available. She wasn't scheduled to work Sundays. When Nolte and Grimm came into place, she told them about her religious beliefs and did not work Sundays. When she relayed to them that she wanted to become full-time, they said she couldn't become full-time or be promoted because she wouldn't work on Sundays. She said others with similar religious beliefs have been promoted and not scheduled to work on Sundays. She also said her age played into her reduced schedule and the alleged attempt to get her to quit. Logan claimed Neiheisel, Nolte and Grimm violated her civil rights by their actions, alleging they used false information against her. She's requesting damages in excess of $25,000. A call for comment was placed to a CiviGenics official, Peter Argeropulous, but wasn't returned Wednesday afternoon.

July 23, 2009 Morning Journal News
A former jail inmate assaulted by fellow inmates at the Columbiana County jail one year ago today filed a promised lawsuit, claiming negligence and a security breach led to the attack. Jeffrey Woodburn of Wellsville named the private jail operator known as Community Education Centers Inc. and CiviGenics Texas, along with the county board of commissioners, the named inmates Aaron Holt of East Liverpool, David Crow of Wellsville and Derrick Howard of Youngstown and an unnamed inmate as defendants. The case appears to be another byproduct of inmates trying to persuade others to smuggle drugs and tobacco into the lockup, with the lawsuit alleging Woodburn was "threatened by other inmates after he refused to bring them tobacco and drugs upon his return to the jail from work release." Three jailers were charged with bringing drugs onto the grounds of the jail facility, with two imprisoned and one found innocent of the felony charge. During testimony, he said the inmates kept asking him to bring items in to them, and others testified about inmates using cell phones to place orders for drugs. According to the lawsuit, Woodburn reported the threats against him to jail personnel who placed him in protective custody in his own cell in a separate section of the jail. The document said security measures were breached on July 23, 2008, when Holt, Crow, Howard and possibly a fourth inmate were able to enter Woodburn's cell and beat him, requiring hospitalization. CiviGenics reported the incident to the Sheriff's Office at 9:58 a.m. July 25, according to a Sheriff's Office report, which noted the incident occurred at 8:55 p.m. July 23. The report said "an unknown inmate hit the emergency button on the control panel in pod 30 section of the jail," which released the doors of all the cells for evacuation. The three named inmates entered Woodburn's cell and allegedly kicked and punched him in the face and chest, the report said. The report listed no arrests for the assault. According to Columbiana County Municipal Court records, no charges were filed against Crow or Howard, but an assault charge was filed against Holt on July 29. However, it was later dismissed in September due to the unavailability of the defendant. The entry on the Clerk of Courts Web site said the jail let the defendant be transported out of the county. CiviGenics, which operates Community Education Centers Inc., is under contract with the county commissioners to operate the jail, a deal the commissioners first brokered in 1997 as a cost-saving measure. The contract expires in December. Woodburn, who was in jail for domestic violence, was released early as a result of the assault. His attorney, Lawrence Stacey II, first raised the issue of a negligence lawsuit last August when he filed motions for the release of Woodburn and two other inmates due to threats from inmates who wanted them to smuggle contraband into the facility. All three had work release privileges, which meant they could leave the jail to go to work and then come back. Woodburn requested damages in excess of $25,000, with Judge C. Ashley Pike assigned to the case. Commissioner Jim Hoppel, when questioned about the lawsuit, said they were advised of the incident when it happened last year. "The situation has been addressed," he said when asked about the alleged security breach. "With the contract we have with CiviGenics, we're held harmless with any lawsuits," he said, adding, though, they'll refer it to the prosecutor's office. Peter Argeropulos, CiviGenics senior vice president, confirmed what Hoppel said about the hold harmless clause, saying the county is insulated against anything that may occur at the jail. He said they hadn't been served with the lawsuit, but said they'll refer the case to their attorney and take appropriate steps. When asked about the situation with the drug smuggling into the jail, he said they work closely with the Sheriff's Office and the county Drug Task Force. "Overall I think we've got a pretty solid track record. We have good employees at the jail," he said.

May 5, 2009 The Review
A former CiviGenics guard accused of smuggling marijuana to inmates became an inmate himself after being sentenced to seven months in prison last week. Nathaniel Barnes, 29, of Youngstown, appeared for sentencing in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court for attempted illegal conveyance of a drug of abuse onto the grounds of a detention facility, a fourth-degree felony. He was originally indicted for a third-degree felony count for illegal conveyance. Judge David Tobin issued the sentence, giving Barnes credit for four days already served in jail. When Barnes entered a guilty plea in March, county Chief Assistant Prosecutor John Gamble said he would recommend a one-year prison term. The charge carried a possible penalty of six to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. The original charge would have meant a possible prison term of one to five years. Barnes was the second former guard sent to prison for smuggling contraband into the county jail to sell to inmates. Former guard Gary J. Ludt was sentenced to prison for 18 months in October 2007 for the same crime. A third former guard, Jason L. Jackson, was found innocent of illegal conveyance during a jury trial last month. According to Gamble, inmates would send a money order to a post office box in Campbell in Mahoning County and order what they wanted, then Barnes would make the delivery at the jail.

February 5, 2009 Salem News
A former CiviGenics guard accused of smuggling marijuana into the Columbiana County jail to sell to inmates pled guilty Wednesday to an amended felony charge. Nathaniel Barnes, 29, of Boardman, entered the plea in Common Pleas Court to attempted illegal conveyance of a drug of abuse onto the grounds of a detention facility, a fourth-degree felony. He was originally indicted for a third-degree felony count for illegal conveyance. In the past couple of years, three different guards at the county jail have been indicted for smuggling contraband into the lockup as part of scheme to sell marijuana and cigarettes to inmates in exchange for money.

December 18, 2008 Morning Journal News
An oversight on the part of Columbiana County commissioners when they privatized the county jail will cost $464,837 to correct. This is the amount commissioners agreed on Wednesday to pay into the retirement accounts of three former and two current jail employees to settle a lawsuit filed in 2004. The roots of the dispute can be traced back to 1998, when commissioners hired CiviGenics Inc. to take over jail operations, thereby abolishing the corrections officer positions as county employees, some of whom were rehired by the company. In 2004, an attorney representing some of the former jail employees now working for CiviGenics initiated legal action, saying commissioners were required to continue contributing into their public employee pension accounts under the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) even though the county no longer operated the jail. Their attorney cited a state law requiring contributions continue into the retirement accounts of a public employee whose job was abolished due to privatization. This applies to only those employees who returned to work for the private operator and continued to perform the same or similar duties as before. Commissioners fought the ruling for the next several years until the OPERS board ruled against them in 2007. When commissioners failed to act quickly enough, the attorney then filed a lawsuit with the Ohio 7th District Court of Appeals forcing them to comply with the ruling. Commissioners did so on April 30, 2008, when they entered into a consent settlement with the five workers. The next seven months were spent trying to calculate how much these employees would be owed in their public retirement accounts. County Auditor Nancy Milliken arrived at yesterday's meeting with the figure - $464,837 - which represents back employee and employer contributions, interest and penalties. The five employees are Pete Neiheisel, Melvin Jordan, Joe Weston, Gene St. John and Jerry Foreman. Three of these employees no longer work at the jail, however. As for the two who remain, commissioners will be required to make the employer contributions into their retirement accounts, which Milliken said will come out to a combined $12,000 in 2009, or 14 percent of their salary. The two workers, and not commissioners, will resume making the employee contributions into OPERS, although the law seemed to indicate this was the county's responsibility. But Milliken said she received an opinion from the Ohio Attorney General's Office stating the employees would be responsible for making their matching contribution.

December 11, 2008 The Review
The escape of four inmates from the Columbiana County jail this summer has led to the purchase of a new camera system for the outside perimeter of the lockup, giving better coverage and better views, Commissioner Jim Hoppel said. The commissioners approved the purchase Wednesday from Radi-O-Sound Communications of Salem, with $47,684 covering the equipment and $8,600 covering the installation. The money will come from the general fund. Two quotes were sought through state purchasing, with a Mahoning County firm submitting the other price. Hoppel said they were close in price for the cameras and the Salem firm didn't beat the other company by much for the installation price. He said they try to use local vendors when they can. The new system will include up to 16 cameras and will allow the warden to tap into the system from home to monitor what's happening. The sheriff also will have the ability to tap into the system. "Would this have stopped the escape?" Hoppel asked, then answered himself, "no." He admitted there were some problems with the old cameras, noting their age and the weather affecting them. The new camera system is just part of what they're doing to upgrade security equipment since the escape. With the improvements in technology, he said it was time to upgrade. A report looked at what led to the escape on Aug. 17 when four inmates broke into a maintenance closet, entered an access panel and crawled through the utility duct work to get to the roof where they managed to open a hatch to get outside, then jumped from the roof to the parking lot and freedom for a day. They were all caught together in a stolen car in Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. According to the report, some jail personnel didn't follow proper procedure for counting inmates or conducting security checks, leading to three jail employees being fired in the aftermath of the escape. Hoppel said they bolted down the hatches to the roof and have instituted other improvements to prevent escape.

September 12, 2008 Youngstown Vindicator
Three staff members were fired in the wake of the escape from the Columbiana County Jail on Aug. 17. Their names were not released in a report Thursday by the county commissioners, who own the jail west of Lisbon. The workers were not county employees. The commissioners lease the jail to Community Education Centers, a private company based in West Caldwell, N. J., that runs detention facilities and programs to help prisoners turn their lives around. Four prisoners, William E. Merritt, Mark Foden, John Hamilton and Jason W. Hefner Sr., escaped from the jail between 8:30 and 9 p.m. They were recaptured the next day near Pittsburgh. John Gilbert, CEC’s deputy director/secure facility division, wrote, “It is clear that staff complacency and physical plant vulnerabilities played a key role in the escape.” The prisoners “used sheets, blankets, pillows, personal clothing and other personal items to craft human shape [sic] dummies on their beds, then covered them with sheets, creating the appearance of a body asleep in the bed,” Gilbert wrote. Established policies and procedures for counting prisoners were not followed. The report says that the 10:45 p.m. prisoner count will now be a “stand-up face-to-face count with verification that each inmate is in their cell.” Sheriff’s officials initially thought the escape occurred later in the night. The sheriff’s office is conducting its own investigation. Sheriff Raymond Stone could not be reached. He took office after the escape. Former Sheriff David Smith said the lock on the maintenance door was smashed. The company’s report said the door was “manipulated.” Peter Argeropulos, senior vice president for the CEC, said prisoners got into a maintenance closet and were able to access and move through a crawl space to eventually reach the roof. They dropped off the front of the jail, where there is no fence, and took off. Argeropulos said the escapees were able to somehow release the hatch on the roof. New security measures have been taken to secure other hatches in the building, and some locks have been upgraded. He said that he did not think a fence was needed at the front of the jail, which includes the coroner’s office.

August 29, 2008 Morning Journal News
Three Columbiana County Jail inmates were let out of their sentences early in August after one of them was severely beaten and the others were threatened. The three are represented by attorney Lawrence Stacey II, who says the threats came from fellow inmates who wanted his clients to smuggle drugs and cigarettes into the jail. He is contemplating filing a negligence lawsuit on their behalf against county commissioners and CiviGenics Inc., the private company that operates the jail under contract with commissioners. The three inmates are: - Jeffrey B. Woodburn, 38, sentenced to four months in jail for domestic violence. - Michael Lentini, 39, sentenced to 100 days for domestic violence. - Jonathan McGarry, 19, sentenced to six months for assault. The charges were misdemeanors, and Stacey said all three had work release privileges at the outset of their sentences, which means they were allowed to leave the jail to go to and from their jobs. Because these were violence-related crimes, they were serving their sentences in the maximum-security wing of the jail complex, where they came into contact with accused felons awaiting trial. Stacey said some of the accused felons ordered his clients to smuggle illegal drugs and cigarettes into the jail for them when returning from work, "or something bad would happen." "All three had received verbal or written threats from hard-core felons in there," Stacey said. Woodburn refused to smuggle in contraband and on July 23 he was assaulted in his cell by three other inmates, who kicked and punched him about the face and chest. Woodburn was taken to Salem Community Hospital with a punctured lung and numerous bruises and cuts. This prompted Stacey to file his motion for early release to protect his client. In his motion, Stacey accused the jail staff of being forewarned of the threats and then failing to "take the necessary steps to protect (Woodburn)" from being attacked. County Municipal Court Judge Carol Robb granted Stacey's motion, and the subsequent early-release motions he filed on behalf of Lentini and McGarry. They were all placed on probation for the remainder of their sentences and placed under electronically monitored house arrest. "As a result of what's been going on, the judges have had no choice but release these inmates early," Stacey said. "The judges are doing the responsible thing." What Stacey finds most troubling is that Woodburn was placed in an isolation cell after reporting the threats, but that didn't prevent the inmates from getting to him on July 23. According to incident report filed by the county sheriff's office, an unknown inmate gained access to the emergency button on the control panel that released all of the doors in cell pod 30. "I don't know how these inmates were able to get to the control panel and unlock all of the jail cells" to get to Woodburn, said Stacey, who was been trying to get a copy of the report for the past month. A call to the jail warden's office went unreturned. Jail security is currently being reviewed after three inmates escaped from the jail on Aug. 18 by breaking into a locked closet and finding a panel that opened to duct work leading to the roof. A report on the escape is expected to be released any day, but preliminary indications are one of the contributing factors is jail staff failed to properly perform a head count when securing inmates in their cells that night. In June, another inmate escaped after kicking out an unsecure window leading to the parking lot outside the minimum-security wing of the jail. During the past two years, three former jail guards have been charged with smuggling drugs into the facility, one of whom was convicted and another one has gone missing while awaiting awaiting trial. The third one is scheduled to go on trial next year.

August 26, 2008 Salem News
Four inmates who broke out of the Columbiana County Jail earlier this month will face preliminary hearings on felony escape charges Thursday in county Municipal Court. William Merritt, 40, and Mark Foden, 38, both of East Liverpool, Jason Heffner, 28, of Salineville, and John Hamilton, 21, of Salem, appeared via video from the county jail for arraignment on the charges Friday, with bonds of $250,000 cash or surety set. Heffner's girlfriend, Melissa McCulley, 26, of Salineville, appeared for arraignment Monday for a felony charge of complicity to escape, with a bond of $50,000 cash or surety set. She'll also face a preliminary hearing Thursday. The four inmates broke into a locked closet, through an access door and then crawled through duct work until they reached a hatch door to the roof. They broke through to the outside, then jumped to the ground to make their escape, according to investigators. Officials also suspected they stole a car from a Trinity Church Road property in Lisbon. All four men and McCulley were found with the car in Bellevue, Pennsylvania, where they were taken into custody. According to Sheriff David Smith, personnel of the private company operating the jail may not have done a proper head count, leading to a late discovery of the fact that four inmates were gone. CiviGenics officials are preparing a report to provide to county commissioners and the sheriff regarding the investigation and the action they'll take in response to the escape. Commissioner Jim Hoppel said they aren't expecting the report until the end of this week.

August 20, 2008 The Vindicator
Four prisoners broke out of the Columbiana County Jail by smashing a lock on a steel door. Sheriff David Smith said Tuesday that breaking the lock allowed the prisoners to leave the jail area and access a closet that held a shaft containing wiring and plumbing. The four apparently climbed the shaft to the jail roof and jumped to the ground Monday morning. The men were apprehended about 1:30 p.m. Monday in Bellevue, Pa. Just what was used to break the lock and why it was in the jail is under investigation, Smith said, Allen Haueter, Smith’s chief deputy, said it was the first major escape at the jail since it opened about 11 years ago. The jail, west of Lisbon, is owned by the county and houses the sheriff’s and coroner’s offices. The facility, however, is run by CiviGenics Inc. of Milford, Mass., which operates some 11 jails in Texas and Ohio. Peter Argeropulos, the chief operating officer for CiviGenics, came to Lisbon late Monday to investigate. The sheriff’s office and CiviGenics plan to issue reports on what happened. Argeropulos said a team from the company had toured the jail. “The lock was compromised,” he said. How that was done isn’t clear. Argeropulos said the prisoner head count was apparently flawed at 10:45 p.m. Sunday, when jailers make head counts, rounds and check areas such as showers. He said the company may have to revise its counting procedures. Smith said his detective, Steve Walker, was interviewing the four escapees and a girlfriend of one of them Tuesday in the Allegheny County Jail.

August 20, 2008 Salem News
A procedure to ensure inmates are in their cells after lockdown may not have happened Sunday night when four prisoners escaped from the maximum security section of the Columbiana County jail, according to Sheriff David Smith. Smith explained that lockdown occurs at 11 p.m. and a guard "supposedly" goes to each door and physically sees and physically knows that a person is in their cell. "Apparently that didn't happen," he said in reference to Sunday night. William Merritt, 40, and Mark Foden, 38, both of East Liverpool, Jason Heffner, 28, of Salineville, and John Hamilton, 21, of Salem, crawled their way to freedom through the duct work in the facility, breaking through a hatch door to the roof and then jumping to the ground. Officials suspected they stole a 1995 Buick from a Trinity Church Road property in Lisbon. All four escapees and Heffner's girlfriend, Melissa McCulley, 26, of Salineville, were taken into custody Monday afternoon in Bellevue, Pa., after the stolen car was spotted by police. Bellevue is located near Pittsburgh. They were expected to be extradited back to Ohio to face charges of felony escape, with McCulley to be charged with complicity to escape. Smith said his personnel traveled to the Allegheny County jail on Tuesday to interview the suspects. Back at the Columbiana County jail, which is operated by the private firm CiviGenics, officials from the Sheriff's Office and the company were interviewing employees. CiviGenics flew in personnel from Texas and Massachusetts to launch an internal investigation of the incident. "I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of exactly what happened," Smith said. He estimated the time of escape occurred between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., noting the missing men were seen at a residence outside Summitville at 1:15 a.m. Monday. For them to break into a utility closet, break through an access door, crawl through the duct work, break through a hatch to the roof and leave the grounds would have taken at least a couple hours, Smith theoried. They would have needed more time then to steal the car and get to Summitville and to pick up McCulley. When asked if a head count was completed at shift change, Smith said that's something being investigated. When asked to clarify if they were checking to see if a proper head count was completed, he responded, "The key word there is proper." Questions remained about how they pulled off the escape, with the sheriff saying he didn't know how they found the escape route they took. He estimated they had to crawl at least 40 feet in total darkness through a passageway full of pipes and no wider than 3 feet in diameter. In spots, he said he was told the piping runs through the middle of the duct and they would have had to maneuver around it. As for the doors, he said they had to break through three of them, beginning with the locked steel door to the closet, the panel door leading into the duct work and then the hatch to the roof which is pinned from the outside. He didn't know what they used to make entry into the doors. "How these guys got out is unbelievable," Smith said. When asked about their jail jumpsuits being on the roof, he said he didn't know anything about their clothing situation. All four men had hearings pending in Common Pleas Court this week from charges which could result in prison time. Merritt was supposed to be arraigned Monday for first-degree felony charges of attempted murder and aggravated robbery for allegedly beating and stabbing a woman he knows last month in East Liverpool. Foden had been scheduled to face trial Tuesday for two counts of robbery, a second-degree felony, for allegedly robbing two East Liverpool stores in March and threatening the clerks in the process. Heffner had a pretrial set for Friday for single counts of attempted theft, breaking and entering, theft and receiving stolen property and four counts of burglary. Hamilton also had a pretrial set for Friday for identity theft, misuse of credit card and receiving stolen property.

August 19, 2008 Salem News
A spokesman for the private firm operating the Columbiana County Jail said company personnel will work with Sheriff David Smith to investigate an escape of four prisoners and take the necessary steps to ensure it doesn't happen again. "They'll evaluate what transpired," CiviGenics Senior Vice President Peter Argeropulos said Monday. Argeropulos arrived in the county late Monday afternoon, along with John Gilbert, director for the secured facilities division of CiviGenics. A senior warden from another facility was expected to arrive today. The warden of the Columbiana County facility is Gary Grimm, who used to work for the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the Elkton facility outside Lisbon. The company headquartered in Massachusetts operates 16 facilities in Ohio, Texas and Arizona. The Columbiana County Commissioners first signed a contract with the company in late 1997 to privatize the jail operation. The company started operating the then-new full-service jail in January 1998. Argeropulos couldn't release any details specific to the incident which resulted in four inmates escaping through the duct work onto the roof and then jumping from the roof to the ground without getting caught. They were later captured in Pennsylvania in a car stolen from a Trinity Church Road property not far from the jail, which is located on County Home Road, both off of U.S. Route 30 between Lisbon and Hanoverton. He deferred to Smith for details about the incident, but said the company's standard practice is to conduct an after action incident review. A team of officials is brought to the site to assess the situation, evaluate the security procedures and make a list of recommendations, if necessary. The report will be provided to the sheriff and to the county commissioners. "Obviously this is something we're concerned about. We'll get to the bottom of it," he said. According to Argeropulos, jail staff members make rounds on the hour to check on inmates, with a requirement "to see living, breathing flesh." They also do head counts as part of their standard procedures. Commissioner Jim Hoppel said he was told they do a count of inmates at the beginning of each shift and at the end of each shift besides going periodic checks. Shift change came at 11 p.m. Sunday. Sometime before 6 a.m., the prisoners escaped. Hoppel received a call at 6:48 a.m. Monday to notify him of the escape, then he called Commissioner Dan Bing and Commissioner Penny Traina to advise them. He went to the scene and was on the roof in the area where the inmates climbed through a hatch. More locks have been placed on the roof hatches as a result of what happened. Smith said jail personnel were being interviewed as part of the investigation and videotapes were being reviewed. According to Hoppel, this was the first escape that he could recall from the full-service jail. In May, an inmate broke through a window in the minimum security wing to escape, but was later caught. Since then, Hoppel said bars have been placed on the windows. Two years ago, two minimum security inmates who were working outside escaped by riding off on a John Deere tractor when they were supposed to be mowing grass. That same week, another inmate who was working at the Courthouse in downtown Lisbon walked off. He was also caught eventually.

May 31, 2008 Vindicator
A couple has been charged after a jail break and chase that ended when they crashed into a West Virginia nursing home forcing the evacuation of 24 people. In Columbiana County, Larry Williams, 35, of Lisbon, is charged with escape and vandalism. His girlfriend, Candy Kibler, 37, also of Lisbon, is charged with felony obstruction of justice. Both have criminal records. They are in Southwest Regional Jail in Bexley, W.Va. They were taken into custody about 12:15 a.m. Friday by West Virginia authorities. Allen Haueter, chief deputy for the Columbiana County sheriff’s office, said Friday that Williams escaped from the jail’s minimum-security section. He had been talking to Kibler on the phone, apparently about her former boyfriend who allegedly owed her money, and he became angry. That portion of the jail is a former nursing home and is run by a private company, CiviGenics Inc. of Milford, Mass. Peter Argeropulos, CiviGenics’ chief operating officer, said Williams took an air conditioning unit out of the wall, and used a piece of wood that supported it to smash the window and escape. Haueter said a deputy coming to the jail saw Williams running away. Authorities went to Kibler’s home but did not find Williams. Haueter said Williams apparently stole a car from a home near the jail, drove to Lisbon to pick up Kibler, and went to Kensington to see her ex-boyfriend to get money. Haueter said the couple drove to Wooster in Wayne County, where they allegedly stole another vehicle. Haueter said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation is to process the vehicle Monday for any evidence. Chief Tim Stover of the Lewisburg Police Department in West Virginia said his officers saw the couple driving and tried to stop the vehicle that went across a field and a parking lot and crashed into the kitchen of the Brier Nursing Home. Stover said 24 residents were transferred to the Greenbrier Valley Medical Center as a precautionary measure. The crash ruptured a natural gas line. No one at the nursing home facility was hurt, he added. Williams and Kibler were both treated for minor injuries at the medical center. The crash caused an estimated $10,000 to $15,000 to the facility. The couple are in the West Virginia jail on fugitive warrants. Stover said he would wait to see how the extradition hearings progressed before deciding whether to pursue charges in Lewisburg.

May 1, 2008 Morning Journal News
A decision by Columbiana County commissioners to settle a dispute over retirement benefits for five former county jail employees could prove costly. Just how much so has yet to be determined, but it could be substantial. Commissioners voted at Wednesday’s meeting to enter into a consent agreement with the former jail employees to resolve a lawsuit filed earlier this year with the Ohio 7th District Court of Appeals. The lawsuit sought a court order requiring commissioners to comply with a decision by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), which ruled last November five former employees were entitled to retirement benefits dating back to 1998, when a private company took over operating the jail. CiviGenics Inc., the company hired by commissioners to operate the jail, hired a number of the former county jail employees who lost their jobs due to privatization. In 2004, an attorney representing some of the jail employees initiated legal action saying commissioners were required to continue contributing into the OPERS on their behalf even though though the county no longer operated the jail. The attorney cited a state law that requires contributions continue to be made into a public employee pension plan of a public employee whose job was abolished due to privatization. This applies if the employee went to work for the private operator and continued to perform the same or similar job duties. Commissioners fought the ruling for the next several years until the OPERS board issued its ruling six months ago. When commissioners failed to act quickly enough to suit the attorney, the lawsuit was filed with the appeals court. Yesterday’s agreement to resolve the lawsuit requires commissioners to pay both the employee and employer share of OPERS (about 14 percent of their salary) dating back to when the five employees were hired by CiviGenics and to continue contributing into their public employee pension plan as long as they remain employed by CiviGenics. The figure is to include penalties and interest, with everything to be completed by June 30. No one seems to know for sure how much the settlement will cost. County Auditor Nancy Milliken said at one time she heard the figures $500,000-$600,000 thrown around, while Commissioner Chairman Dan Bing said it could exceed $1 million. Commissioner Jim Hoppel is the only current commissioner who was in office when the decision was made to hire CiviGenics as a way to save money, which he says it has done. “With privatizing the jail we’ve saved in 101/2 years in the vicinity of $10 million,” Hoppel said. Although Hoppel doesn’t know how much the settlement will cost the county, he is confident it will be significantly less than what the county has saved. Bing said he doesn’t know where the money will come from to pay the settlement. “It’s all because somebody didn’t do their job in the past,” he said. Milliken said her office must obtain the workers’ pay rates from CiviGenics during the period of their employment and begin making the calculations based on the OPERS rates. The information would then have to be submitted to the OPERS board for approval. This would be the second large settlement commissioners would have to pay out because of their decision to privatize the county jail. In 2002, commissioners agreed to pay $300,000 to former jail employees to resolve outstanding labor complaints arising over privatization.

January 20, 2008 Morning Journal News
Another corrections officer at the Columbiana County Jail, Nathaniel Barnes of Youngstown, has been charged for reportedly smuggling marijuana and cigarette tobacco to inmates. It is the second time in less than a year a correction officer in Lisbon traded in his uniform for an orange jumpsuit for allegedly smuggling items to inmates. Barnes, 28, was charged early Saturday with conveyance of a substance into a corrections facility, which is a felony charge. Dan Downard of the Columbiana County Drug Task Force said the charge was part of an ongoing investigation that came after agents were made aware that one or more corrections officers were smuggling marijuana or cigarette tobacco to the inmates. He credited the warden at the county jail, operated by CiviGenics Inc., with being very cooperative. “The warden’s been a wonderful asset,” Downard said. “He is adamant that he doesn’t want that kind of stuff going into the jail.” Another corrections officer, Gary J. Ludt, 37, Bergholtz pleaded in August 2007 to a similar charge of smuggling marijuana to inmates. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

January 11, 2008 Morning Journal News
A ruling requiring Columbiana County commissioners to pay into the retirement plans of five former county jail employees could provide expensive. An attorney representing four of the five people filed a lawsuit this week with the Ohio 7th District Court of Appeals seeking an order requiring commissioners immediately comply with a recent decision by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS). The OPERS board issued a final order on Nov. 14 saying the five workers were entitled to have the county continue paying into their OPERS while they were employed by CiviGenics Inc., the company now running the county jail. The roots of the dispute extend back to 1997, when commissioners abolished all of the county jail jobs and hired CiviGenics Inc. to take over operations, starting in 1998. The private company hired a number of former jail employees, some of whom are still working there. In 2004, an attorney representing former jail employees employed by CiviGenics initiated action seeking OPERS payments on their behalf. The attorney cited a state law requiring contributions continue into the pension plan of a public employee whose job was abolished due to privatization. This applies to those former public employees who were hired by the private company and continued to perform the same or similar duties under their new employer. The OPERS ruled in January 2005 the law applied to the five former jail employees hired by CiviGenics. Commissioners and the county sheriff spent the next two years appealing the decision through the OPERS system before the final ruling was issued two months ago. At one time, the attorney stated 19 former jail employees were affected, 11 of whom were no longer working for CiviGenics as of 2005. This was contested by commissioners. Following the Nov. 15 ruling by the OPERS board, the county auditor’s office was provided the necessary paperwork to fill out in order for the retroactive pension compensation payments to be made. This was followed up with a letter from the attorney, who threatened to take legal action unless the county replied by the end of the year. Officials don’t know how much the five employees are owed, but it could be in significant, depending how long they worked for CiviGenics. Commissioners are required to contribute into OPERS a dollar amount equal to about 14 percent of the employees’ salary, with the employee required to contribute the same percentage. Commission Chairman Jim Hoppel said they have yet to confer with their attorney about the lawsuit and declined comment until then. He did say the county has saved more than $7 million since hiring CiviGenics 10 years ago. It was commissioners who inadvertently contributed to the situation that currently exists by encouraging CiviGenics to hire as many ex-jail employees as possible. “You try to be fair, but that’s the way it goes,” Hoppel said. This would be the second large settlement commissioners would have to pay out because of their decision to privatize county jail operations. In 2002, commissioners agreed to pay $300,000 to former jail employees to resolve outstanding labor complaints arising out of the privatization.

October 20, 2007 Morning Journal News
A fired county jail guard was sentenced to prison for smuggling marijuana to inmates in exchange for money. Gary J. Ludt, 37, of Bergholz, was sentenced to 18 months in prison during a hearing Friday before Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike. In August, Ludt pleaded guilty to smuggling and attempted smuggling of prohibited items into the jail. Assistant County Prosecutor Tammie Riley Jones recommended Ludt be sentenced to 18 months in prison because of the seriousness of the crime and the fact he should be held to a higher standard because of his position. “It goes without saying this kind of conduct maligns law enforcement everywhere,” she said, adding that while under indictment Ludt was also charged in Jefferson County with possessing weapons while under indictment. Defense attorney Sherrie Liebschner pointed out her client didn’t have any a prior criminal record and he had taken complete responsibility for his actions. She said the Jefferson County charge was there result of Ludt going hunting. She asked for leniency on behalf of Ludt. “My client is afraid for his life in this matter.” Ludt had no comment when it came time for him to address Judge Pike, who said his actions damaged the public’s perception of the entire criminal justice system. The crimes occurred in late September 2006. In both instances, Ludt was under surveillance by agents from the county drug task force. In the one instance, Ludt was caught in the jail parking with a package of marijuana that had been left for him on top of one of his vehicle tires. Ludt was arrested while walking to the jail after taking possession of the package. Investigators claimed Ludt had been smuggling small packages that included marijuana, tobacco, rolling papers, cigarettes and lighters, which he sold to inmates for $20 to $50. Ludt told investigators he needed the extra money. Ludt was employed by CiviGenics Inc., the private company hired by county commissioners to run the jail.

June 19, 2007 Salem News
A trial for a former corrections officer accused of smuggling marijuana into the Columbiana County Jail remains set for June 26. Gary Ludt, 36, whose last known address was 102 W. Main St., Salineville, appeared Monday for a status hearing in Common Pleas Court with his defense attorney Sherri Liebschner. Liebschner advised Judge C. Ashley Pike that she told her client the latest offer from the prosecutor’s office, but there was no resolution to the case. Ludt was indicted last fall for two counts of illegal conveyance of prohibited items onto the grounds of a detention facility, both third-degree felonies. Court documents said Ludt was working for CiviGenics as a corrections officer and allegedly smuggled marijuana and tobacco into the facility to sell to inmates last September.

March 9, 2007 Vindicator
An investigation into contraband being smuggled into the Columbiana County Jail has been turned over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. Sgt. Brian McLaughlin, director of the Columbiana County Drug Task Force, said Thursday the move was made to avoid any appearance of impropriety. The task force is based at the building that includes the sheriff's and coroner's offices, as well as the jail that is run by CiviGenics Inc., a company in Milford, Mass. McLaughlin declined to comment on the investigation but said it is ongoing. The task force began investigating smuggling at the jail last year. Columbiana County Common Pleas Court records indicate that at least one inmate used a cell phone smuggled into the jail to try to get drugs brought into the facility. Jason L. Jackson, 28, of East Liverpool, was suspended without pay Monday from his part-time job as a St. Clair Township patrolman. He has not been charged.

March 8, 2007 Morning Journal
A St. Clair Township police officer who was suspended this week is suspected of smuggling marijuana and cell phones to county jail inmates, according to court records. The officer, Jason L. Jackson, also was fired Monday from his job as a guard at the Columbiana County Jail, according to Jail Warden Hank Escola. A request for a search warrant received by the county Drug Task Force indicated the DTF was investigating Jackson because of allegations he was taking prohibited items into the county jail for inmates. The alleged items included cell phones, marijuana and tobacco. The search warrant stated the DTF received information in January that Jackson and another guard had been engaging in this behavior. The investigation culminated in the DTF obtaining a search warrant over the weekend for Jackson’s pickup truck, with the warrant being executed Sunday. The report on what the DTF may have found in Jackson’s truck has yet to be filed in county Common Pleas Court. St. Clair Township Police Chief Don Hyatt told the Morning Journal on Tuesday he suspended Jackson “while an investigation is conducted into his alleged participation in criminal activity” and that this criminal activity did not involve the township department. Warden Escola said he fired Jackson Monday after being briefed by DTF officials. He said the other implicated guard was fired last week for unrelated violations of policy and procedures and failing to follow warden directives. He emphasized the other guard’s dismissal had nothing to do with any of the alleged activities involving Jackson. “That had been rumored, but there was no supportive information presented to me” indicating the other guard was involved in any illegal activity, he said. Jackson, 28, was still a probationary employee at the jail, having worked there the past two months. The other guard had been employed for the past 18 months. Last fall, former guard Gary Ludt was arrested after allegedly being caught in the act of trying to smuggle the following items into the jail: marijuana, loose tobacco, rolling papers and cigarette lighters. The items were found hidden in Ludt’s belt when searched by DTF agents while he was walking from his vehicle in the jail parking lot to report for his work shift. Ludt, 36, reportedly was paid $20 to $50 for each package he was to deliver. He is scheduled to go on trial May 8. The county jail is run by CiviGenics Inc., a private company hired by county commissioners. Escola said this type of activity obviously will not be tolerated.

November 10, 2006 Youngstown Vindicator
Columbiana County Sheriff David Smith said he will try to stop a planned pizza party for jail inmates during the upcoming Ohio State-Michigan football game. "A jail is a jail," an angry Smith said. The sheriff initially said there was no pizza party planned when approached Thursday by The Vindicator. When shown a notice about the party given to inmates at the privately run jail, Smith said, "There will be no party." Still, Smith said he was not sure he can stop it. He said he is the only sheriff in Ohio who does not control his county jail — it is run by CiviGenics of Milford, Mass. The commissioners had received and filed an anonymous letter and a copy of a notice to inmates. The items were postmarked Monday. The Vindicator had also received information about the party. The notice to all inmates from Warden Hank Escola says, "As we all know, the Ohio State/Michigan game is filled with so much tradition that we must to do something to show our support for the Buckeyes." The notice said inmates will each get three slices of pizza in addition to their regular meals. Inmates who can't eat pizza are to notify authorities so "we can make other arrangements," according to the notice. In return, the notice says inmates must keep their cells and living areas clean, keep the noise down during the game, stop "horseplay and childish games" and "help us to help you to have an easy time while you're here." The anonymous letter to the commissioners asked, "Since when did we start to reward inmates for crimes they commit and make their stay in jail easy? What are we running, a jail or a resort?" The letter said that inmates had rioted in September over the food and caused $4,000 in damage to the jail. Smith said the damage was actually closer to $6,000. Five inmates have been charged in the riot. In a separate, ongoing investigation, a civilian jailer and another person have been charged with trying to smuggle drugs and contraband into the jail. The jailer has been fired by CiviGenics. The jail's food manager, who worked for a company under contract with CiviGenics, has been replaced.

September 14, 2006 Youngstown Vindicator
Columbiana County's financial situation is looking a little bit better as the year winds down. Auditor Nancy Milliken said there is a chance the county may end the year with $600,000 to $800,000 in cash and some unpaid bills. Commissioner Jim Hoppel and Commissioner Gary Williams estimated in July the county might have a year-end balance with up to $1.2 million to start 2007. That forecast was based on the county's not paying an estimated $1.1 million to $1.3 million in bills to CiviGenics Inc. this year. On Wednesday, commissioners told CiviGenics, the company that runs the county jail, they will continue to pay the company within 90 days of receiving each monthly bill. Hoppel said that delaying payments longer would cause financial problems for the Massachusetts-based company. The county has paid CiviGenics for June, is about to pay the July bill and hasn't received the bill for August.

August 12, 2006 Salem News
Columbiana County Jail operator CiviGenics recently asked for "written assurances" that the county will pay its bills for housing prisoners, regardless of what happens with the sales tax. The company also warned the termination provision for ending the contract could be reduced to 30 days and could be put into effect. "Any plan to artificially reduce the county jail population will invoke CiviGenics rights to exercise a 30-day termination provision," the letter from Chief Operating Officer Peter Argeropulos said. Commissioners received the letter last month, a promised response to an earlier visit from Argeropulos, who had asked the commissioners for an update on the county's money situation. When commissioners approved the general fund appropriations for this year, one area they shorted was the contract for CiviGenics, predicting the shortage could leave them with $1 million to $1.5 million in prisoner housing bills to pay with next year's funds, which they've said could be even shorter. At this point, the county has paid all the bills to CiviGenics on time.

July 27, 2006 Vindicator
Columbiana County commissioners say better finances have reduced the county's projected 2006 deficit. The commissioners said Wednesday that a variety of factors went into the new calculations. Voters in November and May rejected a 0.5-percent sales tax that brings in about $4 million a year. The issue will be on the November ballot. Commissioners Jim Hoppel and Gary Williams estimate that the county may have a year-end balance of $600,000 to $1.2 million with some unpaid bills. Commissioner Sean Logan's more conservative estimates indicate the county may have about a $500,000 carryover with unpaid bills. The county needs a balance to fund operations at the start of each year until taxes are collected. Both forecasts are based on the idea that the county will not pay $1.1 million to $1.3 million in bills for 2006. That includes about $800,000 the county expects to owe CiviGenics Inc., the company that runs the county jail, and about $172,000 to the Multi-County Juvenile Attention System.

December 22, 2005 Morning Journal-News
County Commissioners breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday after approving the requests by officeholders to appropriate the money they budgeted for each office into the individual accounts. The one area that has the commissioners concerned is the county jail. Last year, the county spent $491,273 during the first quarter. The commissioners budgeted $570,000 for the first quarter of 2006. However, commissioners are concerned that this might not be enough. Commissioners indicated that the county was charged $289,000 for the last bill they received from Civigenics, the company which operates the jail. This means that if that pattern continues, the money appropriated will be only approximately two-thirds of the money needed to pay for the jail.

September 22, 2005 The Review
With costs piling up for the hospitalization of murder defendant James Kovach Jr., Columbiana County Commissioners took emergency action Wednesday to reduce their financial liability. The commissioners approved a contract with Maxim Healthcare of Boardman for a licensed practical nurse to cover times when CiviGenics personnel aren't available at the county jail, so Kovach can be transferred back to the jail. By law, counties must carry the burden of medical costs for inmates in their care, which means the county will have to pay for the hospitalization costs. As of Tuesday, the total overtime accumulated by deputies manning the post exceeded $3,000. CiviGenics, the company running the county jail, has a nursing staff, but doesn't have 24-hour-a-day coverage. Smith said the county would have to cover the cost of a nurse to cover the empty shifts. Maxim Nursing will cover Tuesday through Saturday at a cost of $1,424 at a rate of $30 per hour on weekdays and $32 per hour for Friday and Saturday. The county will also foot the bill for two nurses employed by CiviGenics to work extra hours to cover Sundays and Mondays, at a cost of $360 at a rate of $20 per hour.

November 9, 2004 Morning Journal
A malfunctioning door alarm and a loose section of fence were responsible for the recent escape of an inmate from the Columbiana County Jail. Michael Mick, 27, Frischkorn Drive, Wellsville, escaped from the minimum-security wing of the jail complex on Oct. 30 by exiting through a door and then crawling under a section of fence. County Commission Chairman Jim Hoppel toured the jail this week and discussed the escape with officials from CiviGenics Inc., the private company that operates the jail. Hoppel learned that Mick exited the jail through a door which has a security alarm to notify corrections officers when it has been opened. He said the alarm for the door and another malfunctioned and did not alert the staff they had been opened. Although outside the building, Mick still had to get out of the jail compound, which is surrounded by security fence topped with razor wire.
Hoppel said the bottom of the fence is a tension cable that is supposed to be secured to concrete pilings every eight feet, but Mick found a section of fence where this was not done.

November 8, 2004 The Review
Some changes are to be made at the Columbiana County Jail as a result of a recent escape. Commissioner Jim Hoppel met Monday afternoon with officials of CiviGenics to discuss some upcoming work. Hoppel said a person familiar with installing fences is to be asked to inspect the area and make recommendations on the fence. Hoppel also stated two doors on which the alarms are not working properly will be repaired.

October 31, 2004 Morning Journal
An inmate from the Columbiana County jail remains loose after escaping Friday night with a suspected truck stolen for the getaway found near the escapee's home. According to the incident report filed by Civigenics, Mick was not located after a lockdown at 9:15 p.m. with a complete search of the facility and a head count. Smith said the perimeter and surrounding property was searched by deputies and jail employees.

October 25, 2004 The Review
Democrat sheriff candidate John Soldano offered his own idea for keeping jail profits in Columbiana County, suggesting an arrangement similar to the one used for public defender services. Last week he challenged the $800,000 to $1 million savings touted by the county through the jail contract with CiviGenics, telling county commissioners he wanted to see the private company's revenue and expenditure statement for himself to see if an alternative was possible.
Soldano said he didn't receive much information, at least not enough to verify the savings, but he did note a net profit for CiviGenics of $962,000 since June 2002, money which he said left the county unnecessarily due to the lack of an alternate plan.

October 23, 2004 The Review
The Democratic candidate for Columbiana County Sheriff questioned the numbers he received from county commissioners for jail operations, but Commissioner Jim Hoppel said the numbers are what they are. "That's what CiviGenics gave us," Hoppel said Friday.
Leetonia Police Chief John Soldano, who's running against Republican incumbent Sheriff David Smith, issued a written request earlier this week to Smith and the three county commissioners asking for the annual revenues/expenditures statement for CiviGenics, the private firm running the county jail. Soldano said he wanted to study the numbers for himself to see if the county's really saving the amount of money reported or whether it was financially feasible for the sheriff's office to operate the jail. "I received some information from the commissioners, however, I'm not so sure the information is accurate that I received," he said. According to Soldano, the numbers weren't adding up from the figures he had and they didn't seem 100 percent accurate.

Correctional Treatment Facility
Lucas County, Ohio
Aramark

March 18, 2005 Toledo Blade
Three Lucas County work-release inmates were taken to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center Wednesday after they ate food that contained what appeared to be metal shavings. Two of the inmates were released from the hospital and returned to the facility, 1111 Madison Ave. One was kept for unrelated reasons, said Jean Atkin, county Common Pleas Court administrator. She said work-release and the Correctional Treatment Facility, 1100 Jefferson Ave., receive food from the county jail, which contracts with Aramark for food service. Treatment facility officials yesterday reported a similar problem, but they thought the pieces were aluminum foil, Ms. Atkin said. She said no one at the treatment facility ate the food, which was thrown away. Rick Keller, corrections administrator, said he did not hear of any food complaints in the jail. Ms. Atkin said a complaint was lodged with the food provider. She said the contract with Aramark is up for renewal soon and that there have been some concerns about the food service. Aramark officials could not be reached for comment.

Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio
Stryker, Ohio
Correctional Medical Services

August 1, 2009 Toledo Blade
A Springfield Township psychologist whose security clearance was revoked earlier this year by officials of the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio,was named in a lawsuit filed by a former inmate at the Stryker facility. Wallace D. O'Shell was sued Thursday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court by a woman who claimed she was treated in an "improper manner." Specifically, Stephanie Funkhouser, 31, claimed "inappropriate sexual conduct" and "touching in an offensive manner." The lawsuit also alleged Funkhouser's medications were withheld and that she was placed in solitary confinement as a means of obtaining information from her. CCNO was also listed as a defendant in the lawsuit. Mr. O'Shell had been a contract employee who worked through the jail's Correctional Medical Services since June, 2008. In March, CCNO officials revoked his clearance and initiated an investigation into Funkhouser's complaints. Yesterday, Jim Dennis, CCNO executive director, said in a statement that the investigation was completed and Mr. O'Shell's clearance was permanently revoked. He added it was determined Mr. O'Shell "violated CCNO ethics policy, but there was nothing criminal in nature, according to the Williams County Sheriff's Department." "Dr. O'Shell admitted to investigators that he gave cash and letters to a female inmate, which is in violation of CCNO policies," the statement said. "Investigators were able to substantiate that there was no sexual contact and no sexual conduct from the victim." According to CCNO policy, "staff and inmates are not allowed to have sex or fraternize with each other," an issue raised in a training session that Mr. O'Shell attended, the statement said. "He knew better. Such behavior was not tolerated and his security clearance was revoked," said Mr. Dennis. Funkhouser was sentenced to CCNO May 20 by the Williams County Common Pleas Court for three counts of theft. She was released June 22. Jail officials said the Ohio and Pennsylvania boards of Psychology were contacted concerning possible discipline against Mr. O'Shell, although no further information was available about the request. Linda Shambarger, manager of inmate programs at CCNO, said the lawsuit had not yet been served on jail officials.

March 6, 2009 Toledo Blade
Officials at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio say they’ve revoked access to the regional jail for a contract employee after an inmate complained of improper behavior. CCNO officials said the male employee, who is a psychologist, admitted to giving cash and sending letters to a female inmate. That was a violation of the jail’s fraternization and ethics policies, which are covered in a handbook and an orientation video, they said. A Williams County sheriff’s investigator is reviewing evidence in the case, which remains under investigation. Authorities said they do not believe a crime was committed. The employee had worked through the jail’s Correctional Medical Services since June.

Coshocton County Justice Center
Coshocton, Ohio
Aramark

July 23, 2004
The new contract for the kitchen crew and the food they serve at the Coshocton County Justice Center comes with good news and bad news.  The two cooks at the jail, Janet Swaney and Vickie McKee, will keep their current salaries. However, the cooks will lose insurance and retirement benefits through the county, and pay twice as much for health insurance with the contracted company.  Details of the contract with Aramark were worked out with administrators at the sheriff's office and the Coshocton County Commissioners.   "We'll be making our current wages, (but) we'll be losing out on several things," she said. "If you don't have a county job, you don't have the retirement. What we've put (into our retirement), we'll get, but it won't continue."  (Coshocton Tribune)

Cuyahoga County Jail
Cuyahoga, Ohio
Extraditions International 

September 12, 2001
A van transporting 12 prisoners from a Cuyahoga County jail to upstate New York was hijacked Tuesday by one of the prisoners in a failed escape attempt, police said.  During a food stop, a guard and the driver of the van, which was operated by Extraditions International, a private company, went into a McDonald's restaurant, leaving a female guard to watch the prisoners.  Police said one of the prisoners, Lawrence Tutt, 32, of Pueblo, Colo., overwhelmed the woman, jumped in the driver's seat and sped off.  Police were able to stop the van after a brief chase and take all the prisoners into custody.  (AP)

Franklin County Jail
Franklin, Ohio
Correctional Medical Services

March 7, 2002
Charles Dials was carjacked while driving past the Franklin County Courthouse.   With a few phone calls, a doctor at the Franklin County jail would have been warned that inmate Alva Campbell might be faking his paralysis.   That evidence was in a deposition taken for a lawsuit filed by the family of Charles Dials, whom Campbell killed during a 1997 escape. The family recently settled for $1 million with the company that provided medical services at the jail.  The settlement between Dials' family and Correctional Medical Services was recorded Monday in Franklin County Probate Court.  Campbell jumped out of a wheelchair as he was being brought to the county courthouse on April 2, 1997, and overpowered a deputy. The deputy had not handcuffed Campbell because she thought he was a paraplegic.  The hospital treated Campbell for a gunshot wound suffered when a store manager shot him during a robbery attempt.  Common Pleas Judge Richard S.Sheward in November ruled in favor of Dials' family.   "This was a 1998 case and Correctional Medical dragged its feet and ignored orders to comply so I gave a default judgment to the plaintiff,'' Sheward said. "It wasn't a complicated case, but it was a serious case of a wrongful death of a young person who was executed.''  (The Dispatch)

Hamilton County Jail
Hamilton County, Ohio
Correctional Medical Services, Prisoner Transportation Services of America

November 21, 2011 Local 12
The search is over for a prisoner who escaped from a private jail van during a transfer. Cincinnati Police captured Jose Ramon Fernandez at noon today in Mount Auburn. There were actually two men who escaped Sunday night around 11:30 p.m. They were being transferred in a private prison vehicle carrying prisoners from around the country. Court documents indicate the men kicked out the side door of the vehicle at Reading and Sycamore Streets -- right by the jail. They had slipped out of their handcuffs. One of the prisoners, 36 year old Walter Rode of Dalton, Georgia, was caught about a block away but overpowered the security person and continued to run. He was then tracked by a police canine unit at 12th and Sycamore Streets-and rearrested. He's now facing an escape charge.

November 21, 2011 Local 12
The search continues this morning for a prisoner who escaped from a private jail van during a transfer. There were actually two men who escaped Sunday night around 11:30 p.m. They were being transferred in a private prison vehicle carrying prisoners from around the country. Court documents indicate the men kicked out the side door of the vehicle at Reading and Sycamore Streets -- right by the jail. They had slipped out of their handcuffs. One of the prisoners, 36 year old Walter Rode of Dalton, Georgia, was caught about a block away but overpowered the security person and continued to run. He was then tracked by a police canine unit at 12th and Sycamore Streets-and rearrested. He's now facing an escape charge. Officers say the second man, Jose Ramon Hernandez of Fort Meyers, Florida, is still at-large. Officers have not said what charges the men face originally. Court documents indicate Hernandez was en route to a jail in Florida. Police have not released a photo of Hernandez. Sheriff officials say the private jail van was in Hamilton County to deliver an inmate from Newport, Kentucky on drug charges. That prisoner was taken to the Hamilton County Justice Center without incident.

March 17, 2006 Enquirer
Seeing her with her head shaved, it apparently was easy for Stacey Erwin's co-workers to believe she was being treated for cancer, and they wanted to help. But police say the 40-year-old Erwin, who worked as a nurse at the Hamilton County Jail, does not have cancer, and they have charged her with theft for taking more than $5,000 in donations. "She was telling people she had brain cancer, and they were giving her money," Steve Barnett, spokesman for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, said Thursday. "One of her co-workers got suspicious of her behavior." The sheriff's office said Erwin, of West McMillan Street in Clifton Heights, obtained the money from "numerous co-workers after leading them to believe she was suffering from cancer." Erwin, who was arrested last week, was released on her own recognizance pending her next court appearance. Barnett said Erwin even convinced even her husband she had cancer, and he had unwittingly accepted donations on her behalf. Money problems apparently prompted Erwin's scam, Barnett said. Erwin, a contract employee, has been fired, Barnett said. Erwin was employed by St. Louis-based Correctional Medical Services, which provides medical personnel for jails around the country.

Lake Erie Correctional Institution
Conneaut, Ohio
CCA (formerly run by Management and Training Corporation)

Bombshell in Conneaut: City police will be burdened with investigating prison crime: October 11, 2011, MARK TODD The Star Beacon. SURPRISE: CCA deal not so good for locals.

Sep 30, 2016 starbeacon.com
Family of inmate says LaECI corrections officer caused serious injuries
CONNEAUT — A Lake Erie Correctional Institution inmate was flown from the prison to a hospital for emergency brain surgery last week because of a brain hemorrhage his family says was caused by a corrections officer. The Ohio State Highway Patrol and the prison are investigating whether an officer used excessive force to restrain a reportedly “disruptive” inmate. The inmate, Timothy Davis, 30, formerly of Richfield, is serving a 13-year sentence in the Conneaut prison on burglary and related charges. On Sept. 21, a corrections officer, who has not been named, reportedly slammed Davis against a wall while he was in handcuffs, causing serious brain injuries and bursting his left eardrum, making him deaf in that ear, according to his family. He was released the day after his emergency brain surgery at an unspecified hospital. “The inmate was being disruptive so they had to take him into segregation,” said OHP trooper Michael Royko, who’s handling the state investigation. “At one point, the CO did have to use force to restrain the inmate. “We’re trying to get to the bottom of what happened and what caused that injury,” he said. “Use of force can be anything from resulting in no injury to something like this.” Davis’ attorney, Paul Cristallo of Cleveland, claims Davis was in handcuffs when the CO slammed him up against a wall, but what prompted the physicality is still unclear. He’s awaiting the state’s evidence before deciding whether to pursue legal action on Davis’ behalf. “I want to see the video and I’d like to hear what the CO’s excuse was,” he told the Star Beacon. Davis’ aunt, Nancy Stiver-Ash, also of Richfield — who said she’s cared for Davis like a mother for years — said she expected the prison to claim he was being aggressive, “but that’s a lie.” “He’s not a violent kid. Any time he’s been in prison, he’s never fought a guard — never in his life,” she told the Star Beacon the day after the incident. Stiver-Ash said medical officials from the prison kept her family apprised of Davis’ condition, but about little else relating to the incident. She said she met with Davis in the prison Thursday — for the first time since he was hospitalized. “He looks really bad,” with staples stretching from his ear to the top of his head, she said. “It broke my heart and I had to keep the tears from coming down. “He’s still a human being. He’s still a person. There’s just no excuse to do that to somebody who was handcuffed.” Royko said he’s currently reviewing prison surveillance footage from the Sept. 21 incident. He said he expects to have his investigation wrapped next week. When Cristallo met with Davis at the prison earlier this week, he said the man’s injuries were pronounced. “Assuming he (was) in handcuffs — and I don’t think that’s being disputed — there’s no excuse for using this kind of force against somebody,” he said. A state Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections spokesperson confirmed investigations are underway through OHP and the prison, and the department will review the findings, but gave no other information. “I really do have faith the state is going to be objective and get to the bottom of this,” Cristallo said. Lake Erie Correctional Institution has been privately owned and operated since 2012 by Corrections Corporation of America, based in Tennessee. Jonathan Burns, CCA director of public affairs, declined to give explicit comment on the incident until the investigation concludes, except to say the organization is taking it “very seriously” and cooperating with the OHP investigator. “CCA is committed to the well-being of every individual in our care,” he wrote in an email. “We have a zero tolerance policy regarding excessive use of force among employees. All CCA correctional officers receive extensive training on the safe, humane and appropriate use of force when circumstances make it absolutely necessary.” If Davis serves his entire sentence, he will be set for release in 2027, Cristallo said. “I’m worried about my kid — if he comes out of this OK,” Stiver-Ash said. “I’ve got to worry about his life now. He committed a crime, but you don’t have to treat him like an animal.”

Apr 8, 2016 sidneydailynews.com
ACLU suit: Inmate at private Ohio prison denied hearing aids
CLEVELAND (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is suing the state prisons department for not providing two functional hearing aids to a hearing-impaired inmate at Lake Erie Correctional Institution. A lawsuit filed Thursday in federal district court in Cleveland alleges the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s statewide policy of providing only one hearing aid to inmates is unconstitutional and violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ACLU says inmate James Handwork’s hearing was damaged during Army service in the 1980s, requiring a hearing aid in each ear. His current hearing aids no longer work and can’t be repaired. The suit contends the prison, owned by Corrections Corporation of America since 2012, should provide both replacements. It calls the state policy arbitrary. A message seeking comment was left with the department.

Ohio High Court: Sale Of Prison OK Under State Constitution
The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled the sale of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut to Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America in 2011 did not violate the state constitution. It was the first state prison in the nation to be sold to a private company. A lawsuit by several former prison employees and the union representing state employees challenged the sale alleging it violated a prohibition against state financial involvement with private enterprise.  The justices also ruled the Ohio Employee Relations Board has jurisdiction to determine whether employees of privately owned or operated prisons are considered public employees.

Jun 5, 2015 rt.com
Private prisons bribe judges to jail more inmates – ex-prison guard speaks out

Incarceration, for some, is a pure tragedy; for others, a burden on taxpayers’ wallets. And yet, there are those who make billions of dollars from the grim industry of private prisons. The US government praises them as a way to ease expenditure, a blessing for the community and inmates – but is that really so? Reports have been describing incompetence, corruption and abuse rife in such privately-owned facilities. To find out what the state of affairs is in such prisons, we decided to ask the man who saw it all with his own eyes – from inside the belly of the beast. Paul Reynolds, former corrections officer at the privately owned Lake Erie prison, is on Sophie&Co. Sophie Shevardnadze: Paul Reynolds, former corrections officer at the privately owned Lake Erie prison, now activist against for-profit prisons – welcome to the show, it’s great to have you with us. Now, Paul, communities across the U.S. want to minimize costs and gain more money by handing over control of their prisons to private companies. How does it happen that more prisoners mean more profit? Paul Reynolds: First off, thank you for having me. When you can have more bodies in prison, obviously, you’re going to make more money off of them, cutting costs, doing anything you can; basically, you’re treating this people as chattel in a way to make profit off of them.
SS: But if a bigger prison population means bigger profits why would anyone want to rehabilitate anybody at all?
PR: They wouldn’t, and that’s exactly what happened when took over a prison. A lot of rehabilitation programs went out of the window; it became a warehouse for inmates, kind of a modern-day slaver if you will.
SS: Can you elaborate on that? I mean, I’d like to hear a little bit more about it.
PR: I guess, why they would want to have more inmates in prisons – to increase their bottom line. It basically becomes an assembly-line form of justice. You get them into system, get them in prisons, and you’re warehousing them, you keep them there and you charge the state as much as you can for them and put very little back in return to those inmates. Basically, there’s no rehabilitation when it comes to privatization like this.

SS: But if things are as bad as you say, why does the government put trust in private prison operators? What’s in it for the officials?

PR: I’m sure that they’re getting money back. The state is doing anything they can to save money – I don’t think they did the time to take the research to do this, so for the States to do this… they’re trying to put money in their coffers as well.

SS: Now, the prison you were working in, Lake Erie, it was purchased by the Correction Corporation of America, a company that owns private prison. It was purchased for 73 million dollars. How much revenue does it make, that it’s actually willing to pay that much for a prison?

PR: I don’t have that number off the top of my head, I’m sure we can look that up and find it, but they were making a lot of money from what they told us… Once again, I just don’t have the answer for the numbers…

SS: But do you have, like, an approximate ration or something?

PR: I would say that with the way they cut programs, I would easily have to say their revenue or the amount that was spent on those inmates dropped by… as an estimate here, I would say, by 30% or more.

SS: Because it does sound like it’s a profit for the local taxpayers, if somebody’s willing to pay that much money for a prison. Is it a benefit for the people, do you think?

PR: First off, I think the reason they spent that kind of money on a prison is because they wanted to make this a flagship and show other states… I think they overpaid on this prison, and a lot of people will agree with me on that. I want to say that they overpaid so that they can have the first one in the country, you know, if you’re the first one in the country, everybody’s going to have their eyes on you, and it became a miserable failure, obviously, as we’ve seen, and that’s why I think other states have backed away from contracts with them – because they saw it did not do the way they anticipated. I think they came in here with this idea that they were going to make things the best they could and spend all this money and show how big and grandiose they were, and obviously, it was an epic failure.

SS: Now, CCA says it provides “safe, secure housing and quality rehabilitation programming – and significant savings to taxpayers”. Well, the profits of a prison company come from taxpayer’s money being paid to them for running prisons. So, are municipalities and states really saving money?

PR: No. I would say that they were basically taking advantage of that situation. They’re going to come in and take as much from the taxpayer as they can, and when you say that they provide “safe housing” – I can attest that that’s absolutely not the case. You saw the documentary, I mean, it was, it was… within three months, really, we lost control of that prison, because of their “safe standards” if you will.

SS: We’re going to talk a bit about that in just a little while, but I want to bring to your attention a report by In the Public that revealed something shocking: it says that Arizona and Colorado, for instance, strike deals with private prisons and the state is obliged to keep its prisons filled up to 100% or taxpayers have to pay the private prisons for any empty beds. So, people actually have to pay for dropping crime rates? I mean, how’s that even possible?

PR: That’s… you’re absolutely not dropping crime rates by doing that. You’re going to take somebody who smokes marijuana – let’s be honest, that’s not a very crime-worthy thing, a lot of people do it, police officers do it, who arrest these people and put them in jail – but when the state can say “Hey, you’re going to make $2 and you’re give us a dollar back for every inmate we give you”… That’s sounds like they don’t care. Once again, people become chattel as a way of making money for the state and for the private prisons. Of course, they’re going to want to keep it open.

SS: So are you saying that people are actually getting nabbed for wrong reasons to fill up the quotas? Is that correct?

PR: Absolutely.

SS: Did you witness that personally?

PR: I saw some of the inmates they brought in, within the first two months… I don’t remember exactly when, within first 2 or 4 months, we had an increase of, like, 500 inmates. Some of these were inmates who were high-level troublemaking inmates, if you will, they had a higher security level, and they came and we were completely unprepared for that; but CCA didn’t care, they just want all the bodies. They, basically, took any of the inmates that other prisons did not want.

SS: Also, there was a big scandal a while back, the “kids for cash” affair, when a private prison company bribed a county judge to stuff their juvenile prisons with youths. Does having a private prison in an area corrode the judicial process?

PR: Absolutely. I believe the “cash for kids” was in Pennsylvania, not too far from where I am at, and you saw what happened: I believe that judge received 20 years in prison. If I’m in a position of power to make money off of something, whether it’s gold or silver or people – yeah, I would say it corrodes. I mean, if I can put thousand people in your prison, and you’re going to pay me a million dollars – I don’t care who I put away, I’m the judge! Yeah, it absolutely would corrode.

SS: I want to talk a bit more about your personal experience in that private prison. For those who haven’t seen the documentary, working at the facility, you said that you lost a prison to the inmates that you were scared for your life – why did that happen?

PR: CCA came in and had a hands-off policy on inmates. The state of Ohio allowed us to use force when necessary to deal with inmates. Now, make no mistake – inmates run every prison. They are always in control, there’s 3-to-1 ratio of inmates to security; but, there’s always this balance of force. The inmates know we can come in and do what we need to do to gain order. CCA said “No, you don’t ever touch an inmate, you don’t ever deal with an inmate in that way, you don’t even use harsh language with an inmate”. It only took inmates a few months to realize that we couldn’t do our job.

SS: Why not?

PR: Because they were afraid of getting sued. CCA was afraid that if we hurt an inmate, they might get sued and lose money out of their profit.

SS: They were afraid that they would be sued by inmates?

PR: That’s correct, yes.

SS: Okay, but the prison had added hundreds of prisoners after having been privatized. Were there vacant spots to fill? How did that happen?

PR: Like I’ve said, they would bring these inmates in, by a busload, to meet their contract requirements to keep that prison at 97%, I believe – I don’t remember specific percentage. They just brought them in, whoever would send them an inmate – they would take him, regardless of what this inmate’s crime was or his security level.

SS: You know, I’ve read that inmates in private prisons actually beg for solitary confinement for security reasons – how bad is the violence in these facilities? I mean, can you be detailed in your description?

PR: Yeah, just like I was saying. These inmates realized that we could not control them if we needed to, and inmates realized that we weren’t going to protect other inmates. We had a huge increase of inmates trying to go on“segregation” as we call it - to stay safe, and the inmates took control completely. They knew we weren’t going to do what we needed to do, and the power balance went from here to here, and it was all in their favor. There was a huge increase of drug activity, violent crimes…

SS: But why were you scared for your life?

PR: Because, I was afraid that if I defended myself, I might get thrown in jail.

SS: Okay, so go ahead, finish about the inmates being scared for their lives…

PR: …I was also afraid to lose my job. I have a family to support, I have a child to take care of. But these inmates, when they realized, you know, we weren’t going to use force on them, it was a free-for-all. Inmates were getting their heads bashed in, I used to take them to a hospital. Inmates were constantly fighting, they were robbing each other, extorting each other, it was the Wild West if you will.

SS: Now, you’ve mentioned private prisoners being afraid of lawsuits – why aren’t state prisons afraid of law suits?

PR: I think that’s one of the problems with the States, when they run prisons. They overspend, and there’s obviously always has been deficit when it comes to state running anything – that’s government for you. I think the lawsuits are easier settled, but you’ve got to remember, we’re dealing with government entity versus a private company, who pays insurance and has liability and things of that nature, so… why was their policy specifically like that? I don’t know, but I think it’s a fear of them losing their profits. They’ve got to make money for the shareholders. If they’re not making their shareholders happy, they’re not getting new business, not getting into other states, and make this type of money.

SS: What I wonder is why aren’t the state prisons just as afraid of lawsuits from inmates, as are private prisons, like you’ve said?

PR: My theory on that is probably because they have a direct pipeline to the justice system. Inmates, who act up in those prisons are probably more likely to face legal ramifications for it. I also think the States also believe there’s always an unlimited supply of money and, you know, I guess, it also goes back to the balance of power thing I said. These inmates in state prisons are less likely to act up, because they know they might get hurt, corrections officer might have to do things to them that might be unpleasant in order to gain compliance. So, once again, there’s much more balance of power in the state-run facility that there is in a private facility. When you tell us that we cannot put our hands on an inmate to gain compliance, if necessary, you give them all the power.

SS: Tell me something: do private prisons pay less to guards than state prisons? Is there a problem of staff turnover at a private prison?

PR: To address the turnover issue, there’s turnover in any industry, prisons definitely don’t escape that. In a private run facility – yeah, we were making $5-6 less than a state correctional officer would. Now, I can speak for a prison I worked at and some of ones that I know in local area, I can’t answer that on a nation-wide level, that could be a state thing, that could be, you know, where are those prisons located, is there enough money to pay these people, but generally speaking, yeah, they’re going to pay less, because that affects their bottom line.

SS: Another thing that struck me is how you said that you were punished for trying to do your job – how so?

PR: I had to use force on an inmate. I had several of those and they all were found to be justified. I have a degree in Criminal Justice and I did a lot of study on use of force, now there’s a use of force continuum that any police officer, any corrections officer, anybody involved with that has to follow, and they’re pretty specific by the state, and I was pretty well-aware of how it went. I dealt with this inmate and I had to use force on him to take him to the ground. I received two days of suspension for that, and that was one of the first uses of force where somebody was actually punished and that’s when inmates started to know: “Hey, these guys cannot do what they need to do!”.

SS: What else was wrong with the private prison you were in? You’ve said before there was lack of medication and inmates sleeping on floors… If a public prison could provide all that, why couldn’t the private prison?

PR: I could go on for hours when you’re asking me what was wrong with it, but I’ll try to minimize this here. Let’s address the medication issue: when CCA came in, the private company who ran the prison, but did not own it, had a system set up in place: everything was computerized, inmates walked in, they got the medication and left. When CCA came in, they thought: “We’re not going to do all this, and we have all this technology, and we’re bringing all this, all this money – and they didn’t have a computer! When inmates are going to pick up their medicine, the company was like “we don’t know where’s the inmate medicine at”, they’ll yell at the doctors and nurses, and, you know, they came in and in one minute at midnight everything changed over. Everything we had before went out of the window. They came totally unprepared to do some of the most basic things. Medical is very important part of the prison, as I’ve stated in the documentary, you have some inmates who need some psychotic medication, and if they don’t get it, things get ugly.

SS: What about just other living conditions – I mean, you know, there was also the thing about inmates sleeping on the floor. What, were the beds taken out of the rooms, or the cells, once the prison became private, or what?

PR: First off, this prison didn’t have cells per se; they were dormitory-style areas, housing areas…

SS: So were beds taken out of the dormitories?

PR: No, beds were added to spaces that were normally used for common area, like a common area, quiet room, if you will. They converted those, put beds there. Very-very cramped. There was only about this much space between beds before they moved in, and they narrowed it down to probably like this, you got it right on top of people. So, they added beds. The answer about the sleeping on the floor – that was in segregation. Those cells were meant to hold 2 people at time, and they were housing 3 at a time. You got two beds, three people – somebody’s got to sleep on the floor, and inmates dictate who does that.

SS: What else was the most troubling thing that you witnessed there, except for lack of medication and inmates sleeping on the floor because there was not enough beds for everybody?

PR: The most troubling thing I saw was the fact of seeing other corrections officers scared to do their jobs, to stand there when incident happens, a fight happens, and officer kind of stand there and go on like this, like “what do I do?” That’s scary, because those are people you have to rely on backing up if something happens. If I’m getting my rear-end kicked in by an inmate, I hope somebody would step up, but people were asking questions: “Can I do that, or what’s going to happen to me and my job?”. It kind of became “Hey, we’re got to watch ourselves first for our own job”.

SS: So, how does a company spend all of that money on purchasing prison and then can’t provide basic service? Is it incompetence or simply cost-cutting?

PR: I would say it was incompetence. These people came in - and the top five management there, if you will, are the warden, deputy warden and etc. – they came in here and: “We’re going to do it our way. This is how we’re going do it, and we don’t care what you have to say”. They came in with this attitude that they knew it all, but they had no idea. Have they run prisons? Absolutely, okay. But each prison is different. We know those inmates, we know how that prison runs, and they come in and say: “We’re going to do it our way or if you don’t like it – too bad” – you saw the result of that.

SS: Now did the inmate behavior change after the conditions worsened like you described?

PR: Like I said, it became a free-for-all. The inmates, they just took over and they extorted other inmates and it was out, in the open, the fighting increased. I had plenty of inmates come to me, that I had good rapport with… you know, this is very awkward type of job to be in, you have to have certain personality – and there’s a lot of inmates that had a lot of respect with and good rapport, and they would come to me and say they were scared for their lives. I’ve run into inmates that have gotten out since I’ve been no longer there and they’ve said: “Oh my God, it’s got so bad!”. I departed from there shortly after, within 6 months, and things there got really bad after that first year. It got worse after I left, so I can only imagine what some of those inmates were thinking and saying, but the ones that came to me were very scared and very worried about themselves.

SS: Is there anything you could do for them when they were coming and praying for help?

PR: Not really. I can tell them to request to go to a different dorm, you could go to segregation – we call it “checking in” – they could do that, but no, there’s not much I can do for them. They’re grown men, they have to live their lives and they have to kind of do things as grown men. But, no, basically forward them to their guidance counselor, if you will, or sergeants or just the upper management – let them to try to handle it.

SS: Paul, you know, the picture you’re painting is pretty gloomy. So, why is management of private prison neglecting order and control over inmates? Especially, like you say, they are actually afraid of lawsuits from inmates?

PR: There’s a reason why 6 out of the top-7 managers that were there are no longer there. I go back to “incompetence”. They came in there with this “mightier-than-thou” attitude and it failed miserably. I think once the state had to come back in and basically tell them: “you’re going to do it the way we had it set up to do to begin with” – that prison has run for 12 years without real, major, serious incident or major, serious problems. Every prison has a problem, they all are going to have issues, but to the magnitude of what happened when they took over in the first 18 months? Yeah, that’s them coming in not knowing what’s going on, not taking the advice of the people who’ve been there and, of course, they’re trying to implement their system, because that’s how they’re going to make money for their shareholders.

SS: According to a study by Chris Petrella, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, people of color are more likely to serve time in private prisons than in public ones. Do private prisons’ lobbies target black and Hispanic populations? Did you see more inmates of color?

PR: You know, that’s one of those statistics I’ve seen different ways, they talk about African-Americans disproportionally placed in prison – I don’t know the statistics off-hand, to be honest with you, I haven’t researched them in probably two years…

SS: No, when you were the prison officer, you saw the inmates that were there under your control – were there more Hispanic and African-Americans than white prisoners?

PR: I would say there’s pretty good homogenous mix. There might have been a slight percentage, if we’re talking, maybe 55% African-American, and another 45% would make up Hispanic, white.

SS: You know, also juveniles are predominantly placed in private prisons, and according to the latest survey or investigation published in Huffington Post, they actually face sexual abuse, also neglect, insanitary food – how does that encourage youngsters to actually come out and be clean and lead a good life?

PR: Unfortunately, most of the inmates who come in there, juveniles, they probably come out worse than when they went in, especially into a private prison, when there’s really no rehabilitation going on there. It’s a training ground for them. We have shock programs here, in the States, where you send juveniles to boot camps and show them what prison life is really like, but ultimately, I hate to say this, it comes back on the communities to try and change this behavior. These inmates, these juveniles who come in prison, 95% of them come out worse off than when they went it.

SS: Paul, thank you very much for this interview, for this very sad insight on private prisons in America. We were talking to Paul Reynolds, former correction officer at a private prison, activist against for-profit jails, discussing the privatization of incarceration in the U.S. and its’ consequences. That’s it for this edition of Sophie&Co, I will see you next time.


May 21, 2015 ohio.com
COLUMBUS: The status of the nation’s first privately-owned state prison was debated in Ohio on Wednesday, as litigation brought on behalf of union workers displaced by the historic sale was argued before the state’s high court. Arguments before the Ohio Supreme Court came in a suit the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, a group of individuals and the liberal think tank ProgressOhio brought against the state after Republican Gov. John Kasich and the GOP-controlled state Legislature passed a biennial budget bill authorizing the 2011 sale of Lake Erie Correctional Facility in Conneaut, and placing a second state prison under private management. The union argues that placing the privatization plan in the budget violated the Ohio Constitution’s single-subject rule for legislation. State attorneys contend the plan rightly belonged in a budget bill because it raised revenue for Ohio’s coffers and cut operational costs from the state prisons budget. A trial court dismissed the case, but the Tenth District Court of Appeals allowed a single argument brought by the civil service union, prison workers and the liberal advocacy group to move forward: that the 3,000-page budget bill contained more than one subject. The state appealed, facing the prospect of future budget bills — which contain the most sweeping policy changes of any legislative session — being subject to line-by-line scrutiny. Justices accepted the appeal in June. Prior to the Lake Erie prison’s sale, state lawmakers had enacted legislation in the mid-1990s that allowed the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to contract with private companies for the operation and management of its prisons, as long as at least 5 percent was saved compared to state costs. The budget passed in 2011, Kasich’s first, went further — including non-permanent language that allowed up to five state prisons to be sold outright. At the time, the state was facing a projected deficit approaching $8 billion following the national recession. The state ultimately found a buyer for only one. Lake Erie Correctional Facility was sold to Corrections Corporation of America in December 2011 for nearly $73 million and contracted with the company to run it. The state also hired Management and Training Corporation as part of the same deal plan to operate the state-owned North Central Correction Institution in Marion. Embedded in the civil service union’s legal challenge is the suggestion that the privatization plan wasn’t about money, but about reducing jobs represented by organized labor. They have argued that money the state pays CCA to operate the prison — including $29 million in management fees each year, plus annual ownership fees of nearly $4 million — will eventually completely negate the revenue generated by selling the prison. They name 11 individuals who lost prison jobs and list others to whom the privatization meant pay cuts, long commutes, lost seniority and lost retirement coverage. In its filings, the state said any item seen to “rationally affect the state budget and operations” should be allowed to be included in a state budget. It raised particular issue with the Tenth District’s request for the trial court to review the entire budget and conduct a line-by-line review to excise offending passages. Besides the prison provisions, the bill contained hundreds of passages, including some limiting abortion access. “These holdings cast a cloud over vital legislation, and leave the General Assembly in the dark on what it may include in future bills making appropriations,” the state wrote.


Apr 10, 2015
news-herald.com
Three people, two of them corrections officers, face felony methamphetamine charges after arrests by the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office. On April 8, sheriff’s detectives conducting a drug investigation allegedly saw 27-year-old Timothy R. Winters, of Hambden Township, trying to hide a “one pot” methamphetamine lab at 15720 Pioneer Road in Huntsburg Township, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office. After getting a search warrant, detectives allegedly found four “one pot” labs in the home, the release stated. Winters and Brandon D. Inghram, 24, of Huntsburg, were arrested and charged with second-degree felony illegal manufacturing of drugs, according to the release. Sarah B. Stafford, 27, of Dorset Township in Ashtabula County, also was arrested and charged with second-degree felony complicity to illegal manufacturing of drugs, according to the release. Winters and Stafford are employed as corrections officers at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut, the release stated. Lake Erie is privately owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. A call to the warden of the institution was not immediately answered. Three people, including two corrections officers, face meth charges.


Mar 8, 2014 The Columbus Dispatch

Gov. John Kasich and statewide officeholders are asking the Ohio Supreme Court to kill an unprecedented court-ordered, line-by-line review of the previous state budget to determine whether parts of it should be invalidated. The appeal says the order requiring a trial-court judge to conduct an evidentiary hearing to dissect the 3,000-plus-page budget bill and its hundreds of changes in state law would illegally amount to “judicial line-item vetoes.” The Franklin County Court of Appeals ordered the review in finding that lawmakers violated the “ one subject/one bill” provision in the Ohio Constitution by inserting a prison privatization measure in the $55.8 billion 2012-13 budget. The appellate judges ordered Common Pleas Court Judge Patrick E. Sheeran, who had previously dismissed the case, to review the budget and strike “fraudulent” sections that violate the one-subject requirement. The budget addressed such diverse matters as abortion restrictions, teacher merit pay, a gambling hot line, barber licenses and court testimony by coroners. The state’s appeal argues that previous court rulings have upheld the legality of the budget’s hosting a laundry list of money-related policy changes and that inviting judicial review of lawmakers’ choices violates the separation of powers. The appellate ruling “casts a cloud over vital legislation and leaves the General Assembly in the dark on what it may include in future bills including appropriations,” the appeal states. The Ohio Supreme Court has not yet decided whether it will accept the state’s appeal, filed on Monday. The Court of Appeals decided unanimously on Oct. 28 to overturn part of Sheeran’s dismissal of a 2012 case filed by the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association and Progress Ohio over a budget section to privatize and sell some prisons. The three-judge panel ruled that the prison-privatization language championed by Kasich and Republican legislators was inserted in the budget for “no rational reason,” in violation of the constitutional one-subject mandate. The section is designed to prevent lawmakers from trading votes on each other’s bills and to prevent “riders” from being attached to legislation sure to pass. As a result of the budget law, the state sold the Lake Erie Correctional Facility in Conneaut to Corrections Corp. of America for $72 million and allowed another company to run the North Central Correctional Institution in Marion. The union sought damages for employees who lost jobs and invalidation of the private-prison contracts, returning both prisons to state control or ownership. OCSEA spokeswoman Sally Meckling called the ruling significant, saying lawmakers long have abused the process by inserting controversial matters into budget bills to shield them from separate and in-depth scrutiny. Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgressOhio, said, “This would have a major impact on how we govern because no longer will you be able to take controversial items that appeal to campaign contributors and friends and lump them in with a larger budget issue.” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the governor’s office does not comment on pending lawsuits. The appeal contends that the prison language was budget-related and brought in money for the state and that the entire budget should not be subjected to review simply because one section was found legally dubious. “A broad challenge to the entire budget bill fails if it has a common budgetary purpose, and trial courts have no authority to strike out provisions completely unrelated to the case in question,” the filing states.


Oct 25, 2013 citybeat.com

New audit of Lake Erie facility finds improvements, but some problems linger. A re-inspection of the privatized Lake Erie Correctional Institution (LECI) found the prison is “heading in a positive direction,” but the facility is still on pace in 2013 to maintain increased levels of violence similar to the year before, according to the report. In 2011, LECI became the first state prison in the country to be sold to a private company after Ohio, under the urging of Gov. John Kasich, sold the facility to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) as a cost-cutting measure. Since then, multiple inspections found deteriorating health and safety conditions that anti-privatization critics warned of prior to the sale. The audit, published on Oct. 8 but conducted on Sept. 9 and 10, comes from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC), Ohio’s independent prison watchdog. The inspection was announced beforehand, unlike the unannounced audit on Jan. 22 that found a sharp rise in violence and various health problems. In other words, CCA had time to prepare for the latest inspection but not the one conducted earlier in the year, which could explain some of the mixed improvements. “The CIIC inspection team’s overall sense is that conditions have improved,” the report claimed. “CCA has poured significant resources into the prison, including removing or changing staff, hiring on former (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction) staff, investing in additional security measures, and bringing in outside consultants.” But for all the improvements, CIIC found issues of safety, security and inmate discipline linger: “Although improved slightly, the percentage of inmates reporting that they feel unsafe or very unsafe is still high.” CIIC found inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff assaults remain on track to match 2012’s higher levels of violence. The previous CIIC audit found inmate-on-inmate violence had increased by 188 percent and inmate-on-staff violence had increased by more than 300 percent between 2010 and 2012. Staff reportedly told inspectors that there was “significant progress” in rates of violence throughout 2013, but the provided statistics for the year don’t reflect an improvement. In some areas, conditions measurably worsened: CIIC reported that a “significantly higher percentage of inmates” tested positive for illegal substances in the first eight months of 2013 compared to the same time span in 2012. Disciplinary actions and use of force were noted concerns for CIIC, even though LECI staff apparently made strides to exert more control over the inmate population. The prison also has more serious misconduct than similar minimum- and medium-security facilities. CIIC didn’t formally inspect medical services and recreational facilities, but inspectors received various complaints from inmates in both areas. The amount of inmate grievances against staff actions also remain higher than the years before CCA took over the facility, although CIIC found slight improvement. Still, the report repeatedly praised CCA for its improvements, particularly in rehabilitation and reentry services, better performance of rounds and shakedowns, and stronger health services and records. One example: CIIC found inmates are receiving 47.9 percent more GED diplomas, which certify a high school-level education, than they did in 2011, putting LECI’s GED achievement level at the average for similar prisons. Staffing issues also improved, although the staff turnover rate remains above the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction average and security officers reported poor morale because of low wages. For some critics of privatization, the poor conditions come as no surprise. Before CCA bought LECI, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio repeatedly warned that the for-profit incentive encourages private prison companies to cut services, security and staff while maintaining as many prisoners as possible, since the prison’s pay is based on how many inmates it holds. CityBeat previously reported on the deteriorating conditions at LECI after inmates’ insider accounts, requested public records and numerous state reports found increasing violence and health concerns (“From the Inside,” issue of May 29).


05/01/2013 aclu.org

Eighteen months after the first state-owned prison sold to a for-profit prison company, and there is no doubt that the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is woefully unfit for the job. From dirty conditions, rampant drug use, and staggering increases in violence, the Lake Erie Correctional Institution is in a dangerous decline, leaving many to questions whether the state needs to step in and assume greater control. To illustrate the deterioration of the for-profit prison, the ACLU of Ohio released a timeline showing the disturbing series of events at Lake Erie.

Let's look at CCA's problems by the numbers:

•             47: instances of non-compliance outlined in a September 2012 Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections audit.

•             300%: increase in inmate on staff violence, and

•             187.5%: increase in inmate on inmate violence from 2010-2012.

•             248: calls to law enforcement from local residents in 2012 asking for patrols around the prison because of rampant crime, especially people throwing drug contraband over the prison fences. There were only 157 such reports in the first 11 years combined of the prison's existence.

•             Two: number of inmates who overdosed on heroin smuggled into the facility in the last year, with one of the inmates dying.

•             39: number of inmates transferred from Lake Erie in January 2013 after the facility was in lockdown for over a week following several gang fights.

•             130%: the level of overcrowding in segregation units at the for-profit prison, meaning inmates are triple-bunked and sleeping on the floors of cells designed for two people. Inmates in these units are locked inside their cells for 22 to 24 hours per day.

•             500: number of inmates kept on bunk restrictions (i.e., locked inside their cells for 22 to 24 hours per day) after another inmate was seriously injured in an April 7 fight.

•             $500,000: penalties the state levied against CCA over the past eighteen months because of their mismanagement of the prison.

•             $127.3 million: difference between what the state of Ohio wanted for selling Lake Erie and how much it ultimately earned.

Advocates and members of the media are beginning to recognize that Ohio cannot wait until it is too late to stop the rapid decline of this for-profit prison. The ACLU has asked state legislators to intervene and hold CCA accountable for its mismanagement, but the question remains: what else has to go wrong for officials to wake up to the fact that Ohio should get out of the for-profit prison industry altogether? Thirty years after CCA was founded, it is clear that doing business with them is risky for taxpayers, communities, employees and inmates. Ohio's unfortunate gamble in allowing CCA to purchase a state prison outright should serve as a tale of caution to other states: seller beware when CCA wants to buy your prisons.

 

April 10, 2013 therepublic.com

A private corrections company says a restriction limiting nearly 500 inmates to their bunks at a northeast Ohio prison following two weekend fights has been lifted. The restriction involved one of three housing units at the 1,700-inmate Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut (KAW'-nee-awt). Spokesman Steve Owen with Corrections Corporation of America in Nashville, Tennessee, said Tuesday the facility is back to normal operations. The CCA-owned and operated prison houses inmates under contract with the state of Ohio. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio in a report Tuesday said inmate fights and attacks on guards are up sharply at the prison since the private takeover and blamed overcrowding. CCA disputes the report, which it called an ACLU attack.


March 27, 2013 starbeacon.com

CONNEAUT — Conneaut’s privately-owned prison is getting a new boss, Corrections Corporation of America announced Tuesday. Barry Goodrich, warden since CCA took possession of the ex-state prison in January 2012, is involved in a job switch that takes effect next week. He will oversee the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas, Colo., while BCCF’s former boss, Brigham Sloan, is coming to Conneaut. The public will have a chance to meet Sloan during an open house at the prison between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. April 3, officials said. “We are excited to have Brigham Sloan join the management team at Lake Erie,” Daren Swenson, CCA vice-president of operations, said in a statement. “Throughout his 17-year career with CCA, Warden Sloan has demonstrated a commitment to operational quality and strong community service.” Sloan’s mission will be to “build on recent operational successes achieved under Warden Goodrich’s tenure,” according to the statement. He will also expand the prison’s “community outreach initiatives,” according to the statement. Goodrich is only the second warden LaECI has seen since it opened nearly 13 years ago, and the first since it was sold by the state and became a for-profit business 15 months ago. In a brief interview Tuesday, Goodrich indicated family considerations prompted him to relocate. Goodrich’s daughter lives in Nebraska and his wife has roots in Kansas, he said. “Colorado is right in-between,” he said. Goodrich said he enjoyed his time in Conneaut and “the people of the community.” He said the prison’s transition from state-to-privately owned was “historic” and made for a challenging transition. “I believe we have accomplished most of the goals we had in place for the prison,” he said. City Manager Tim Eggleston was away from his office Tuesday and unavailable for comment. City Council President Thomas Udell could not be reached for comment. Pollice Chief Charles Burlingham said he had a “good working relationship” with Goodrich. CCA has seen a bumpy start to its ownership of the Conneaut prison. A state inspection in September revealed dozens of deficiencies, although nearly all had been addressed by the time a follow-up exam was conducted a few weeks later. In November, an inmate died of a heroin overdose, a death still being investigated by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. LaECI received American Correctional Association accreditation in January, but the new year also saw a flurry of contraband-smuggling incidents that put a spotlight on the prison’s perimeter security. Attention paid the prison’s security issues prompted a surprise inspection by the state that revealed a jump in the number of disturbances inside the prison and a high presence of gang activity. On the plus side, the prison got good marks in cleanliness, food and other categories. Sloan joined CCA in 1996, according to a statement. His most recent assignment, BCCF, is a medium-security prison with 1,466 beds, compared to the minimum/medium status at LaECI and nearly 1,800 beds — 300 of them added after CCA took possession. Like Conneaut, Bent County houses state inmates, according to the web site. LaECI opened in April 2012 as an experiment. At the time, it was Ohio’s first state-owned but privately-mananged prison, operated by Management and Training Corp., of Utah. MTC bid on the Conneaut prison when it was put on the block but lost to rival CCA.


03/06/2013 correctionalnews.com
CONNEAUT, Ohio — A private prison in Ohio has been making headlines in all the wrong ways since the state sold the facility in 2011. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) paid the state $72.7 million for the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in an unprecedented move that the company’s representatives predicted would serve as a model for other states at the time. The private prison company sent correspondence to leaders in 48 other states, trying to encourage them to make similar deals. Instead, Ohio has fined the company nearly $500,000 because of various violations found during audits of the facility. An audit released Sept. 25 of last year found that the institution was in compliance with American Correctional Association standards in 94 percent of the categories measured, but was only 66.7 percent in compliance when it came to standards set by the state of Ohio. The audit also found that some staff members at the facility, “expressed safety concerns due to low staffing numbers and not having enough coverage.” The report indicated that several doors were padlocked shut, blocking the main escape path in the case of a fire and all 12 staff members interviewed didn’t know which key opened the firebox. The document also noted that Emergency Breathing Apparatus’s were difficult to find, often locked away, and hadn’t been inspected. The audit also found that there were no correctional officers near the medical unit, even though there were many inmates being treated and picking up medications, leaving staff members in an unsafe condition. Another section reported that some inmates felt unsafe and didn’t believe staff members had the authority to improve the situation. Problems in the medical unit were also reported, with inmates often waiting longer than required for doctor appointments and various steps being skipped or forgotten during clinical visits. The facility also reportedly failed to notify other facilities when it transferred inmates with staph infections. An additional walkthrough conducted on Sept. 4 “found unacceptable living conditions of inmates being housed inside recreation areas, with no immediate access to running water for hydration, showers and the use of a toilet.”’ A report from April 7 indicated that an inmate convicted of murder or aggravated murder was working inside the entry building, which was strictly forbidden as “a serious security breach.” A follow-up visit in November found that many of the issues were being addressed, but local citizens and political representatives voiced their own concerns in the meantime. Officials in the small neighboring town of Conneaut reported an increase in crime related to the facility, which they say began after the state transferred responsibility for the facility to CCA. Crime data from the local government indicates that officers responded to 229 calls related to the prison in 2012, nearly four times the amount that occurred in the prior year. This led City Councilman Neil LaRusch to write a letter to the governor’s office asking for assistance. LaRusch sited earlier promises that his local police would not be burdened by the sale of the prison to a private company and pleaded for assistance. “The city is not financially in a position to add more officers to deal with this private prison. With this situation getting out of hand at this pace, what can the governor propose to assure the safety and security of the citizens of Conneaut?”


Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 Dayton Daily News

Fights, disturbances and use of force have all increased at a state prison now owned and operated by Corrections Corp. of America, according to a new report released Friday. The Correctional Institutions Inspection Committee conducted a surprise visit to Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut in mid-January and documented a high presence of gang activity, illegal substance use, frequent extortion and theft and other conditions that make for potentially unsafe conditions. Inspectors found that staff hesitated to use force when appropriate and had no sanctions for misbehavior other than segregation, which was full. Compounding these issues is high staff turnover and low morale, the report said. “New staff generally do not have the experience or training to be able to make quick judgments regarding the appropriate application of force or how to handle inmate confrontations. Staff also reported that they are often required to work an extra 12 hours per week, which may impact their response,” the report said. The CIIC report reviewed data from 2010 to 2012 but Corrections Corp of America only handled the prison since Jan. 1, 2012. CCA also saw an 18.2 percent increase in the number of inmates housed at the facility over the prisoner population before the private company took ownership. CCA spokesman Steve Owen disputed the CIIC findings, saying the data spans three years and different ownership and management. He said CCA made significant security upgrades, such as additional cameras and upgraded fencing, and gang activity has declined from 20.6 percent in January 2012 to 16.5 percent in January 2013. Nashville-based CCA bought the facility from the state in 2011 and signed a contract to house minimum and medium security inmates at the prison. This is the second time in less than six months that state inspectors have found poor conditions at the Lake Erie prison. In September, state monitors and auditors found that inmates didn’t have immediate access to running water or toilets and were using plastic bags for defecation and cups for urination. They also documented that inmate complaints about prison gangs, assaults and other problems had doubled since the private operator took over. CCA disciplined several employees following the poor audit. A re-inspection found that conditions had been improved and the facility later won accreditation from the independent American Correctional Association. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction reported Friday that the system wide three-year recidivism rate dropped to 28.7 percent, which is a record low. The previous rate was 31.2 percent and the national average is about 43 percent. “I am excited to see yet another decline in the number of people who are returning to prison, and I believe the rate of the decline is particularly significant,” said DRC Director Gary Mohr. “Reducing offender recidivism and keeping Ohio’s communities safe are at the core of what we do, and this metric is an indicator of the effectiveness of the work we are doing to change the criminal justice system.” The current rate is based on offenders released in 2009. During that time period, 4.68 percent of offenders returned to prison on a technical violation of supervision or a supervision sanction, while 23.99 percent returned on a new felony commitment. The lower rate means about 658 fewer inmates returning to prison, which calculates to about $15.8 million in annual savings to Ohio taxpayers. Lake Erie Correctional Institution Location: Conneaut Ownership/management: Corrections Corporation of America, Nashville,Tenn, owned and operated. Inmates: 1,768, minimum and medium security Staff: 243  Correctional Institution Inspection Committee key findings: 2010 to 2011 inmate-on-inmate assaults increased 187.5 percent and inmate-on-staff assaults increased 306 percent. 2011 to 2012 fights increased 40 percent. 2012 disturbances doubled over previous years. Last six months 6.7 percent of inmates tested positive for illegal drugs, which is higher than the DRC average.

 

February 14, 2013 starbeacon.com

CONNEAUT — Officials with Corrections Corporation of America on Wednesday night acknowledged a bumpy start to its ownership of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut, but promises big improvements in the coming months. "The first year (of transition) is always rough," said Daren Swenson, CCA's vice-president of facility operations told Conneaut City Council. “We know there are things we can do better in 2013. We will see significant changes in 2013.” Several CCA executives, along with a representative of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections and local law enforcement, were guests at a meeting of council's public safety committee. The meeting comes on the heels of a surge of contraband-smuggling cases and other issues in recent weeks that have alarmed council and the city's state lawmakers. CCA assured city officials they are aware of the worries and are taking serious steps in response. Warden Barry Goodrich said LaECI is in the process of upgrading its camera surveillance system, enhanced its employee training, stepped up drills regarding perimeter security and has bolstered its "intelligence-gathering" within the prison. "Our training meets or exceeds state and industry standards," he said. In late December and early January, nearly a half-dozen people were arrested within the span of a few days for trying to toss cellular telephones, tobacco and other prohibited items over a section of the prison's north fence. Goodrich said he was pleased to see the arrests, crediting the "high success rate" to the prison's law enforcement partners and vigilant neighbors. "It reflects on the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Conneaut Police Department and the community," he said. "I've been (in corrections work) in six states and I've never seen better results." Todd Ishee, ODRC's northeast regional director, said the over-the-fence smuggling technique is a "conveyance method that has emerged within the last five years." "It's not unique to Conneaut, Ohio," Ishee said. However, Conneaut has logged more arrests regarding those types of incidents than other sites, he said. CCA took possession of the prison in January 2012, eventually adding 300 beds. On average, the prison houses 1,774 inmates. LaECI employs 275 people, most of them corrections officers. In September, the ODRC's first audit of the privately-owned prison revealed dozens of deficiencies in several areas, including internal security, sanitation, training and document-handling. A follow-up inspection a few weeks later showed nearly all the problems had been corrected or were being fixed. "(The September audit) was a very good learning experience for us," Goodrich said. "We learned how Ohio does its audits." Prompted by council's concerns, a surprise inspection of the prison was conducted by a five-member team on Jan. 22-23. While the team's report is still being written, State Rep. John Patterson last week said it revealed some deficiencies. Councilman-at-large Neil LaRusch asked about the number of felony-level incidents investigated by the OHP since CCA took control. Cases dropped in 2012, said Lt. Jerad Sutton, of the Ashtabula County post. LaRusch also questioned CCA officials about its attempts to find ways to reduce the property taxes it pays. Presently, CCA pays more than $1 million annually through its ownership of LaECI. Steven Owen, the company's marketing director, said CCA owns more than 40 prisons that comprise considerable acreage. Any corporation action pertaining to real estate "makes more sense when you recognize the significant property we own," he said. Owen later said CCA is "proud" of the tax support its provides locals schools and local government. LaECI is making strides in its education programs for inmates, has exceeded the goal it set for prisons that receive high school equivalency diplomas and strives to be active in the community, Goodrich said. Council members stressed they were happy to have CCA in the community, but would appreciate the prison being more communicative.. High-profile events at the prison have made residents nervous, and council have been peppered with questions it cannot adequately answer, members said. "We definitely will work with you," said Council President Thomas Udell. "There were concerns, and now we know they've been addressed." Ward 1 Councilman Doug Hedrick, whose ward includes the prison, praised CCA for "recognizing the need for good community relations." Some of Hedrick's constituents, "quite frankly, were frightened," he said.

January 31, 2013 The Columbus Dispatch
Fights that erupted over the weekend at the privately owned Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut resulted in more than three dozen inmates being transferred to a state-owned prison in Mansfield. Fighting involving “multiple offenders” broke out in two housing units at the Ashtabula County prison late Friday and early Saturday. A statement from the prison said the staff “used nonlethal force to quell the fighting and quickly gain control.” Another fight broke out minutes later in a separate housing unit, but it also was brought under control. Several inmates were “identified as participants in the fighting.” One was taken to a local hospital for treatment of a broken leg after being forced to the ground by a corrections officer, a State Highway Patrol report on the incident said. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections and the patrol are investigating. Following the incidents, records obtained by The Dispatch show 39 inmates were transferred to the Mansfield Correctional Institution, a state prison in Richland County. State prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith confirmed the incident took place, but she would not comment on details. “The staff responded quickly and appropriately. No staff (members) were injured, and all offenders have been placed in segregation,” she said. Smith said state employees were involved only in transporting inmates, not dealing with the disturbance. A closed section at the Mansfield prison had to be opened and additional officers called in to handle the transferred prisoners, she said. It is unclear whether the inmates will return to the private prison or continue to be housed in the state prison. The Lake Erie facility was sold by the state last year to Corrections Corporation of America, a private business headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. The facility has 1,542 inmates and a security staff of 144. Officials with the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, the labor union representing state prison employees, said they have been concerned about problems at the Lake Erie facility, including an influx of contraband making its way into the prison, as well as a lack of transparency in reporting incidents. “This isn’t about unions. This isn’t about trying to blame someone. This is about the safety of the employees,” said Tim Shafer, OCSEA operations director and a former corrections officer. Shafer said the violent inmates “become the taxpayers’ problem” once they are transferred to a state facility.

January 11, 2013 Ohio.com
COLUMBUS: The American Civil Liberties Union wants state help with an increase in criminal activity around an Ohio prison privatized about a year ago. The ACLU said Friday that policing the perimeter of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut (KAW’-nee-awt) along Lake Erie is overburdening local authorities and creating unsafe conditions. A Conneaut councilman has written Gov. John Kasich’s regional liaison citing three recent arrests for contraband, including one where a local officer was injured. He said the State Highway Patrol has typically handled such duties. A September audit found dozens of safety, health and security issues at the prison. In November, an inmate was found dead. Messages seeking comment were left with the state and Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, the prison’s private owner.

Dec 31, 2012 Plunderbund
Kasich’s private prisons plan saving Ohio money… in the worst possible way: When Kasich unveiled his first biennium budget in March 2011, he called for selling five State prisons to “save money” by privatization.  By the time the budgetary legislative sausage making process was completed, the Kasich Administration reversed course and instead sold only one prison, privatized the operation (but not ownership) of another and took one privately operated prison back under State control. At the time, the Kasich Administration claimed that only the bid by Corrections Corporation of America (the former employer of Gary Mohr, Kasich’s Rehabilitation and Corrections Director) for the Lake Erie Correctional Institution made sense for the State to accept.  Ironically, most of the spending from Kasich’s revised plan, according to the Kasich Administration itself, was from taking the privately operated prison back into a public institution. So how’s Lake Erie Correctional been doing under private ownership?  Not well, according to this story from the Dayton Daily News, which has reviewed audits of the facility by the State’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee.  Those inspections found: • Padlocked fire exits; • Meat slicers without safety guards and other food safety violations; • Likely falsification of food service records; • Clogged water fountains; • Moldy showers; • Unsecured cleaning chemicals; • No guards monitoring “pill call” — when inmates receive medications; • Two inmates painting a mural in the entry building that were ineligible to work in that area because they are convicted killers; • Unacceptable living conditions of inmates being housed inside recreation areas, with no immediate access to running water for hydration, showers or the use of a toilet. And here’s the State’s response to CCA’s unconsciousable breach of its contract with the State of Ohio: The state docked payments to CCA this year by more than $573,000 for leaving positions vacant and violating terms of the contract. We saved more money by paying less to CCA for operating a prison that is below Ohio’s required standards for prisons.  Imagine the shock we had in discovering that a prison owned by a for-profit company would try to cut corners to turn a profit!  And remember, as a result of Kasich’s privatization efforts, these companies got to rehire the state prison workers but not honor their union contracts.  The savings, the Administration claimed, would come from having a profit motivated company operate a prison without having to use union labor.  So, thanks to Kasich, the employees there are getting paid less and have crappier benefits for the same job they used to have.  But that’s not all they face: Under CCA control, inmate complaints about prison gangs, assaults and other problems have doubled since the state turned over control, staff turnover has been more than 20 percent and violent incidents increased 21 percent inside the medium-security prison, according to public records. Less pay and worse benefits while working with more gangs, more violence, deplorable inmate conditions and shocking breaches of security?  It’s no wonder they have large turnover there. Just imagine how much worse it would have been if Kasich had proceeded with his original plan. This story should be treated as a front page news and a Kasich Administration scandal all on its own.   But’s it’s also a ticking time bomb.    It only a matter of time before these small cut corners add up to a big disaster. Ohioans should be embarrassed that Kasich is letting CCA lock up our fellow citizens in a facility like this and ashamed that he’s letting Ohioans work in a dangerous, shoddily-run prison owned by a for-profit corporation that appears to be more concerned with its own bottom line than the safety of its employees. The State of Ohio should stop simply fining CCA and should look for a way to retake ownership and operation of Lake Erie Correctional Institution. It’s time for Governor Kasich to admit that his privatization experiment has been a horrific failure, before it’s too late.

Dec 30, 2012 Dayton Daily News
During the past year, unsafe and unsanitary conditions were documented by state monitors at one of Ohio’s privately-run prisons forcing the new operator to make major changes less than one year after taking control of the facility. At the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, which is now owned and operated by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, state-employed monitors and auditors found conditions that included inmates not having immediate access to running water or toilets and using plastic bags for defecation and cups for urination. Under CCA control, inmate complaints about prison gangs, assaults and other problems have doubled since the state turned over control, staff turnover has been more than 20 percent and violent incidents increased 21 percent inside the medium-security prison, according to public records. The prison is located on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, just east of Cleveland. “This year we began managing the Lake Erie Correctional Institution (LaECI), and while we received an initial audit score for the facility that did not meet our high standards, both a re-inspection from the state and an extensive audit from the independent American Correctional Association (ACA), which recommended accreditation with a score of 99.06 percent, confirm our commitment to ensuring that LaECI is operating at the highest quality,” CCA spokesman Steven Owen said in a statement. Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s administration sold the facility to CCA for $72-million and turned the keys over on Dec. 31, 2011 to the publicly traded company. Operation — but not ownership — of the North Central Correctional Complex in Marion was turned over to another private company, Management & Training Corp. of Utah. Privatizing two prisons is estimated to save taxpayers $10.4 million this year, Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections officials said. Contract Monitor Will Golar, who is assigned to the CCA-owned Lake Erie prison, reported in September that he “found unacceptable living conditions of inmates being housed inside recreation areas, with no immediate access to running water for hydration, showers or the use of a toilet.” “That’s an extremely serious, serious violation and a serious issue that obviously we addressed very quickly and then CCA in turn addressed it very swiftly as well,” said Linda Janes, DRC chief of staff. Golar also documented kitchen floors being mopped with such dirty water that the floors were left a darker shade, dirty drinking cups that had to be wiped out before being used, and two inmates painting a mural in the entry building but they were ineligible to work in that area because they are convicted killers. An internal audit conducted in September uncovered: * Padlocked fire exits; * Meat slicers without safety guards and other food safety violations; * Likely falsification of food service records; * Clogged water fountains; * Moldy showers; * Unsecured cleaning chemicals; * No guards monitoring “pill call” — when inmates receive medications. Staff also reported that they felt unsafe and guards carried pepper ball guns into the chow halls as a show of force, according to the September audit. The state docked payments to CCA this year by more than $573,000 for leaving positions vacant and violating terms of the contract. After the report, CCA disciplined several employees. “We swiftly took action, disciplining 14 employees from officers to supervisory staff,” Owen said. “The disciplinary actions ranged from unpaid suspension to counseling and retraining. Quality conditions in the segregation area have since been reaffirmed during the State’s recent re-inspection and the subsequent ACA audit.” Janes chalked up the problems to the addition of 300 beds to the Lake Erie facility and bringing in Corrections Corporation of America, which had not previously worked in Ohio under DRC’s extensive rules and policies. But Joanna Saul, director of the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, said that CCA initially retained 97 percent of the staff who were already working at the Lake Erie prison. “These reports are obviously very concerning. I certainly hope that strict attention is being given to improving,” said Saul, whose agency conducts unannounced inspections of each state prison every two years. The CCA-owned prison is due for an inspection next year, she said. Saul said her office has seen the number of complaints from Lake Erie inmates jump to 125 so far this year, compared with 63 for all of 2011. One letter writer from the CCA-owned prison says his life is in danger: “I have a hit out on me by gang members, Heartless Felons.” Another writer says his brother is being forced to carry out a gang hit on another inmate. And a third says the rehabilitation programs keep getting canceled because of staff shortages. Inmate complaints from the North Central Correctional Complex, run by MTC, have also doubled this year compared with 2011, Saul said. Most of the complaints are about health care, which is typical in most prisons across Ohio, she said. Violent incidents at the North Central prison have declined 41.8 percent this year compared with last year when it was state-run, according to DRC records. MTC spokesman Issa Arnita attributes this in part to taking over a well-run facility. “We are very proud of our outstanding management team and correctional officers. They have done a wonderful job of building on an atmosphere of respect and accountability. We have been very consistent in communicating with offenders and staff in dealing with any issues before they grow out of control,” Arnita said. MTC previously ran the Lake Erie prison for more than a decade but won the contract to operate the North Central prison in Marion. Over the past 12 months, the state monitor assigned to the MTC-run prison in Marion issued memos about the company leaving nursing shifts vacant, failing to line up medical specialists to provide care, and having more than 1,000 inmates backlogged for the chronic care clinic. The state of Ohio deducted $436,677 from its payments to MTC for these and other contract failures. And just recently, internal auditors cited MTC for failing four of 57 mandatory standards and six of 38 non-mandatory standards. The internal audits were conducted to prepare both prisons for accreditation by the American Correctional Association in February. Arnita said MTC anticipates its North Central prison will earn accreditation and management will make further improvements next year. “During the first year, we focused primarily on safety and security, placing our greatest efforts in these areas. We will continue this moving forward; however, we also plan to expand and improve the various educational, career, and life skills courses we offer at the facility,” he said. “MTC is dedicated to providing offenders with meaningful programming that we believe helps reduce recidivism.” Auditors cited CCA for failing 47 standards in September but a re-inspection in November found almost a miraculous turnaround. “Congratulations on the many accomplishments achieved in such a short amount of time,” wrote DRC Audit Administrator Michelle Burrows to Warden Barry Goodrich at the Lake Erie prison. Janes acknowledges that DRC’s switch to privatization has not been flawless. “This was a significant change for Ohio so we certainly expected some bumps in the road. Obviously, those audit standards showed some significant issues and other less serious but items that we still take very seriously and want to make sure that they are rectified,” Janes said. Christopher Mabe, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association and a long-time prison worker, was less charitable about CCA’s performance so far. And he complained that the state prison department is giving free-of-charge help to CCA in the form of staff training and gang assessment. “Their audit is a disaster,” said Mabe, who represents state workers including 10,000 in the prison system. “We believe the incarceration of human beings should be left up to the judicial system and the public trust. When you leave incarceration up to a for profit company, it’s a bad deal for everybody.”

11.28.12 ACLU
CONNEAUT, OH - The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is calling on the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) and the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) to fully investigate a series of troubling reports emanating from Correction Corporation of America's (CCA) privately owned Lake Erie Correctional Institution, including today's report of an inmate death, possibly from a drug overdose. “This facility was audited in September and dozens of safety, health, and security issues were found,” said ACLU Director of Communications and Public Policy Mike Brickner. “Now an inmate is dead. Clearly, there are systemic problems within this facility and they need to be addressed.” The September audit at Lake Erie Correctional discovered unsafe conditions not only for inmates, but for prison staff as well. Highlights from the list of nearly 50 violations included inadequate medical care, dirty living conditions, and lack of staff training. For a follow-up audit in November, the facility made superficial corrections to some of the violations. Unfortunately, many of the systemic violations involving medical care and staffing were not addressed or simply left as “pending.” These larger problems are indicative of issues the ACLU of Ohio and other advocates pointed out as fundamental flaws with private prison operators. “Running a safe, secure prison with proper medical care takes resources,” said Brickner. “The private prison model is built on profit above all else, meaning they will cut corners to maximize profits. Unfortunately, when medical care and safety protections are cut, tragedy often occurs. While safety violations may happen at any facility, private prisons are often less equipped to properly handle them and ensure they do not happen again.” “There is a reason Ohio leaders have suggested they may not privatize more state-owned prisons,” added Brickner. “Whether or not they are willing to admit it yet, this is not a sustainable model. It puts short term profit ahead of good public policy and it works against the real efforts Ohio is making to shrink inmate population and reduce recidivism.” In 2011, the ACLU of Ohio released a report entitled Prisons For Profit: A Look at Prison Privatization. The report details the history of private prisons in America and concludes that they create many long-term problems for state and local governments. In 2012, Ohio became the first state in the nation to sell a state facility to a private prison company.

July 12, 2012 Columbus Dispatch
Arguing that workers lost their jobs and had their lives uprooted, the state’s largest employee union has gone to court over private prisons. The Ohio Civil Services Employees Association filed suit Monday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. The suit represents 270 union members who were “laid off or otherwise negatively affected” when the state turned over the North Central Correctional Institution in Marion to a private operator and sold the Lake Erie Correctional Facility in Conneaut in Ashtabula County. The union listed 11 individual employees who it said lost jobs, were “uprooted from their communities or were wrongfully excluded from employment” when the prisons became private. The union wants the private-prison contracts overturned and the employees to get their old jobs back. “While we believe this privatization is unlawful, our bigger concern is the impact that privatization has on our members’ lives,” said union President Christopher Mabe. “Not only is privatization unsafe and bad public business, it’s devastating for the lives of these employees and their communities. These public servants did nothing wrong and now are being punished by bad public policies.” Last year, the state agreed to sell the Lake Erie prison to the Corrections Corporation of America, of Nashville, Tenn., for $72.7 million. The state pays the company to house prisoners there. At the same time, the Marion prison was shifted to Management and Training Corp., of Centerville, Utah, and the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Lorain County, previously operated by Management and Training Corp., was taken over by the state. Spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction won’t comment because the litigation is pending.

January 11, 2012 Star Beacon
Local leaders are confident they have seen the end of the bureaucratic tug-of-war that accompanied the recent sale of Lake Erie Correctional Institution to a private security company. City administrators, at Monday’s City Council meeting, said a legal ruling issued last week by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine provided the definitive opinion on the sticky issue of who handles criminal investigations inside the prison. “This matter has been put to rest,” said Law Director David Schroeder. For the past two months, opinions swung back and forth on the investigation matter. Depending on the week — or day — either the city’s police department or the Ohio State Highway Patrol would handle felony-level cases that originate at the prison, now the property of Corrections Corporation of America. The OHP assumed the duty while the LaECI was a state-owned facility. DeWine put the matter to rest with a letter that said the prison is still considered a state institution since it houses state inmates, despite its private ownership. As a result, the OHP will remain the primary law enforcement authority at LaECI.

January 5, 2012 Star Beacon
The city, in a move that could indicate a lawsuit is looming, will keep tabs on the impact investigations conducted by local police will have on the municipal budget. Law Director David Schroeder said the city will closely monitor the financial cost of handling felony-level cases that result inside the now privately owned Lake Erie Correctional Institution. The city will compile the figures over the span of a few months, he said. “We will be assembling data,” Schroeder said. “There will be an expenditure of time and resources.” At issue is the city’s sudden discovery that the Conneaut Police Department will indeed be assigned serious cases originating on prison property. After a series of meetings with state officials the past several weeks, including Gov. John Kasich, the city had been led to believe the Ohio State Highway Patrol would retain the law enforcement task it had held since the LaECI opened in 2000. City administrators and council say the cash-strapped police department lack the resources and manpower to patrol the town and spend time at the prison. In 2010, the OHP investigated 125 cases at the LaECI, troopers said late last year. On Tuesday, Schroeder said the city would “take any and all steps to protect the community financially.” During council’s work session, Schroeder referenced an agreement struck between the city and state prior to LaECI’s construction that states the prison will remain under state ownership. Conneaut spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars to accommodate the prison, officials said. Last year, when the $72.7 million sale of the prison to Corrections Corporation of America was announced, some council members said the city should pursue a reimbursement of its investment. Last month, the city and state composed a memorandum of understanding that would keep OHP troopers on the job inside the prison. Late last week, just before the transaction took effect, the city received notice from the state attorney general’s office that it had concerns with the agreement, saying troopers working inside a private security business could pose legal liability concerns. A change in state statutes would be necessary to secure the attorney general’s approval of the plan, Schroeder said. Legislation authorizing the use of troopers at the LaECI is being fast-tracked in Columbus, officials have said. State Rep. Casey Kozlowski, R-Pierpont, could not be immediately reached Wednesday for a status update.

November 2, 2011 Star Beacon
Corrections Corporation of America will apparently start from scratch in its search for employees for the state prison it plans to acquire at the start of the year. Just about every employee at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution will be laid off effective Dec. 31, according to paperwork filed last week with the state by Management and Training Corporation, the Utah-based company that has operated the prison since it opened in April 2000. In a notice MTC filed with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, it will “permanently lay off its employees” at LaECI and the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility, another prison operated by MTC. The action will affect 271 people at LaECI, according to the notice — the same number of people listed as employees on the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections web site. More than half of the workers, 142 employees, are correctional officers, according to the notice. The prison’s two deputy wardens are also on the lay-off list.

October 21, 2011 Star Beacon
The understanding that the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department may be investigating crimes inside Conneaut’s prison next year came as a surprise to a key player in the plan: Sheriff William Johnson. “I don’t know anything about it,” he said Thursday. “All I know is what I read in the paper.” On Tuesday, Conneaut city officials traveled to Columbus for a meeting with Gary Mohr, director of Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The topic was law enforcement responsibility inside the Lake Erie Correctional Institution once it is sold to Corrections Corporation of America. While in state hands, the Ohio State Highway Patrol handled all felony-level cases. Once a private prison, the chore falls to law enforcement with local jurisdiction, according to the law that authorized the sale. Conneaut was worried the duty would fall to its understaffed police department. In Columbus, the delegation was told the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association had generally agreed investigations would be handled by the sheriff’s department. On Thursday, Johnson said he had not been involved in meetings regarding the prison. A few hours later, Johnson said he had been in contact with the CCA and meetings will be arranged soon with all affected parties, including the county and Conneaut. At those sessions, responsibilities and — more importantly — how the added duty will be financed, will be ironed out, he said. “We’re going to figure out how it will be done,” he said. “It’s all about being able to finance it.” Like Conneaut, the sheriff’s department is also enduring its share of money woes. Staff has been let go and patrols within the county’s 27 townships have been trimmed because of budgetary problems. As a private business, CCA is expected to pay around $1 million in property tax to the Conneaut school district and city, as well as the county, A-Tech and Conneaut Township Park. Johnson said the agency deemed responsible for prison investigations may be able to earmark some of the tax revenue to pay for the task. “If tax dollars are coming in, get the money to the people involved (in investigations),” he said.

October 15, 2011 Star Beacon
A state prison spokesman on Friday held out hope that the Conneaut Police Department won’t be unduly burdened by crimes occurring inside the Lake Erie Correctional Institution when the prison goes private at the start of 2012. Carlo LoParo, communications chief with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said he was confident people will be satisfied with the policing situation once officials have a chance to explain the process. “These are valid concerns, and once we’re able to explain the process and procedures, I think city officials and residents will be pleased,” he said. “People have questions and we have answers.” At issue is City Council’s belief that the city of Conneaut will be obliged to conduct criminal investigations within the LaECI once it is sold to Corrections Corporation of America at the end of the year. The Ohio State Highway Patrol takes on such felony-level investigations at state-owned prisons. Legislation says those duties will fall to “local jurisdictions” at privately-owned prisons, and some city officials take that to mean the Conneaut Police Department — although the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department has enforcement jurisdiction throughout the county. Earlier this week, council was startled to hear the news, saying the police department can’t handle the responsibility at current staffing levels. Some councilmen feared much of the property tax revenue the city will earn from the privately-owned prison will be gobbled up with police wages and benefits.

September 10, 2011 Star Beacon
The city of Conneaut is investigating whether it can recoup money it spent years ago to make the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, soon to be a privately-owned prison. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Taxation has confirmed that the prison -- once it becomes a for-profit enterprise -- will indeed be paying property tax to the city, local school district and county. Questions and doubts had surfaced in recent days about the prison's tax status once the Corrections Corporation of America is given the keys at the start of 2012. Earlier this week, Law Director David Schroeder said he is investigating whether the city is entitled to reclaim some of the taxpayer cash invested in land acquisition and infrastructure in the 1990s to win a prison and the jobs it would produce. Schroeder told City Council this week that he is examining documents pertaining to the issue of possible reimbursement. At the time, the city was working with another public entity -- the state of Ohio -- to make a publicly-financed prison a reality. The pending sale of the prison to CCA in Nashville, Tenn., may put a new light on the relationship, officials have said. "We were partners going into this," Schroeder said. "The city struggled to find money to put into infrastructure." Carlo LoParo, Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman, said Friday he was unaware of Conneaut's interest in any reimbursement of spent funds. In the 1990s, Conneaut aggressively pursued a super-maximum security prison touted by the state. To that end, the city acquired hundreds of acres from USX Corp. on the city's east side and offering it at no cost to the ODRC. The super-max prison would go elsewhere, but soon after the state approved construction of a new minimum/medium security prison. Conneaut sweetened its offer by offering to bring municipal water and sewer service to the site. Finance Director John Williams said this week the city obtained grants to help defray the cost of the infrastructure, but still put about $500,000 cash into the project. In return, the city obtained a huge water/sewer customer and receives income tax from employees. As of mid-August, some 271 people worked at the prison, according to the ODRC website. In related news, Gary Gudmundson, Ohio Department of Taxation spokesman, reassured local and county officials Friday that CCR will make property tax payments when the transaction is finalized at the start of the new year. Ohio House Bill 153, which spells out the conditions of the sale of a state prison -- no exceptions. The provision reads: "The act expressly subjects a private contractor that enters into a contract to own and operate one of the five prisons authorized by the act to state and municipal income taxes and the commercial activity tax. Further, sales involving a contractor in the contractor's role as a consumer or purchaser are subject to all state and local sales and use taxes unless exempted under another existing provision of sales and use tax law. After a prison facility is sold to a contractor, the facility is placed on the county tax list and duplicate, with the effect of making the facility subject to all real property taxes and assessments, with no exemption from real property taxation applying to the conveyed facility." LaECI was sold for $72.7 million. State Rep. Casey Kozlowski, R-Pierpont, said last week the prison has been valued at $70.1 million, meaning CCA would pay around $1 million in property tax annually. The money would be divvied between the Conneaut school district, city, Ashtabula County, A-Tech (formerly the county's Joint Vocational School) and Conneaut Township Park. The city could receive between 15 and 20 percent of the tax collection, Williams said. "We'll see some dollars from this transaction," he said. Ashtabula County Auditor Roger Corlett said this week he had no specific information on tax revenue the prison would generate, adding and his office is investigating CCA's tax responsibility once the deal is sealed.

September 1, 2011 All Headline News
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections announced Thursday the winning bidders in the $200 million privatization of prisons in Ashtabula and Marion counties. Two out of three bidders won the contracts: Corrections Corp. of America (CCA) of Nashville, TN, and Management and Training Corp. (MTC) of Centerville, UT. The Geo Group Inc. of Boca Raton, FL, was the losing bidder. The state of Ohio pushed through with the announcement after a Columbus judge denied a restraining order by opposition groups to halt the process. Five adult prisons out of the state's 32 corrections facilities were up for grabs. CCA will take over the operations of Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Ashtabula County, while MTC will manage Marion County's North Central Correctional Institution and the vacant Marion Juvenile Correctional Facility. The MTC-operated North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Lorain County will be turned over to Ohio and merged with the state-operated Grafton Correctional Institution.

August 7, 2010 Star-Beacon
Officials at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution and Ohio State Highway Patrol continue to investigate a fight one week ago, which landed 15 inmates in solitary confinement. The review is proceeding at a deliberate pace, Rich Gansheimer, LaECI warden, said Friday afternoon. The probe will not be rushed, to ensure a thorough job, he said. “We want to get to the cause of it,” he said. “We want to get the guys responsible.” One inmate was injured in a fight that began around 4:30 p.m. in one of the housing units. He was taken to Ashtabula County Medical Center for treatment and returned to the prison the same day. No corrections officers or prison staff were injured, LaECI officials said. The fight was broken up without the assistance of any outside agencies, according to reports. Prison officials have declined to say how many inmates were involved or whether weapons were used, saying those questions will be answered by the investigation. OHP investigates all crimes that occur on state prison property.

August 2, 2010 AP
The state is investigating a fight at a private prison in northeastern Ohio that resulted in 15 inmates punished with solitary confinement. Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Monday the fight happened about 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution. Smith says no guards were injured and that one prisoner was treated at a local hospital for injuries and returned to prison the same day. The prison system and the state highway patrol are investigating. The prison run by Utah-based Management and Training Corporation is a minimum and medium security facility with about 1,500 inmates.

May 18, 2005 AP
Ashtabula County's budget problems are so severe that dozens of crimes committed at one of the state's two privately operated prisons aren't being prosecuted. The northeast Ohio county doesn't have enough money to handle all the crimes reported, Prosecutor Thomas Sartini said. Some crimes reported at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution are being overlooked as a result. "I don't like not to prosecute any case that's a legitimate case," Sartini said. "I've always taken the position that we're going to prosecute cases to the fullest extent, but if I've got one hand tied behind my back, it's a little tough to do. So we're in a position where we've had to make some calls. The only crimes consistently prosecuted from the prison involve inmates assaulting guards or attempts to smuggle drugs into the prison. State Highway Patrol records show that inmate attacks on other inmates are usually overlooked. Prisoners aren't being prosecuted for having weapons, either.

March 14, 2004
An inmate at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution was found badly beaten Tuesday afternoon, officials said. The inmate, identified as Bobby Donaldson, 22, was reportedly struck by a padlock placed inside a sock, officials said.  (Star Beacon)

January 24, 2003
CONNEAUT - The state prison perched on Conneaut's East Side generated nearly $400,000 for the city's budget last year, nearly half of that in municipal income-tax revenues, according to figures provided by Finance Director John Williams.  The information has been relayed to Gov. Bob Taft, who on Wednesday confirmed he will close at least one state prison to help heal a $720 million budget deficit. The Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut has not been excluded, officials have said.  The medium-security prison is operated by Management and Training Corp., of Utah, and MTC employees - more than 250 people - paid nearly $125,000 in city income taxes, Williams said.  The prison also buys a huge amount of water from the city. Water revenue from the prison was $88,000, while sewer revenue was $159,000, Williams said.  Conneaut counts on prison-related revenues to help pay off its prison-related debt. To entice the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to consider a Conneaut site for its first privately managed prison, the city offered gifts of land and infrastructure.  While the state contributed more than $39 million to the prison project - primarily in construction costs - Conneaut agreed to absorb nearly $2.1 million in expenses. The city's expenses include sewer lines ($647,000), waterlines ($591,000), a mandatory water tank ($532,000) and land ($309,000). Loans were obtained to help the city handle the costs.  The city bought nearly 500 acres of land from USX Corp. and donated some 175 acres to the state for the prison. The balance of the acreage is home to the East Conneaut Industrial Park and the city's compost site.  State Rep. George Distel, D-Conneaut, has said the loss of the prison would bankrupt the city since it would lose its main method of repaying the prison debt. Distel has said he has shared Williams' information with Taft's office.  (The Staff)

Lucas County
Miscellaneous
September 22, 2003
The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office is seeking information on the whereabouts of a jail inmate who escaped Monday from a West Toledo hospital, where he was awaiting surgery for a jaw injury he had sustained the day before in a jail elevator.  John A. Perez, 23, whose last known address was in the 900 block of Elm Street in Toledo, had finished taking a shower when he asked a guard whether he could return to the bathroom in his second-floor room at St. Anne Mercy Hospital so he could spit out blood from the jaw injury.  He wasn’t wearing leg irons because he had just gotten out of the shower.  A private security guard, who was hired by the sheriff’s office, turned his head, and Mr. Perez ran out the door and down the hall and fire escape, wearing only a hospital gown, authorities said.  Mr. Perez was arrested Aug. 13 on two counts of felonious assault. He is accused of shooting Anthony Contreras in the right leg and firing at a vehicle driven by Dustin Evans on July 27 in East Toledo.  Anyone who can provide information on Mr. Perez’s whereabouts is asked to call the Toledo Crime Stopper program at 419-255-1111.  Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.  (Toledo Blade.com)

Mansfield Correctional Institution, Ohio

Aramark

Oct. 17, 2013 mansfieldnewsjournal.com

MANSFIELD — Two Aramark Food Service employees who worked at Mansfield Correctional Institution were fired over the weekend for “inappropriate relationships” with inmates, according to a prison incident report. A third Aramark employee resigned, according to the report dated Sunday by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. “There was an investigation conducted involving three inmates involved in relationships with three Aramark employees,” the report states. “In result of overwhelming information received from independent sources it was decided to remove C. Swann, L. (Lori) Rush and S. (Shaylee) Wade from their employment as an Aramark contractor at MANCI. “C. Swann was interviewed on Oct. 12. Her belongings were searched and a patdown was performed resulting in no contraband found. C. Swann was informed not to report to work at MANCI. S. Wade was interviewed on Oct. 13 and informed not to report to work at MANCI. L. Rush resigned her position to Ms. Heather Solon (Aramark) on Oct. 13 prior to being interviewed.” The incident report states three inmates involved in the probe were placed in segregation. “Aramark employees do go through training about inappropriate relationships,” said JoEllen Smith, spokesperson for the ODRC. “We take it very seriously.” Two inmates had new tattoos in reference to the workers, the report stated. One is serving 10 years for robbery and aggravated burglary. Another is serving 25 years for involuntary manslaughter, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and having a weapon under disability. A third inmate is serving six years for involuntary manslaughter. He did not admit he was involved with one of the workers, but acknowledged “helping her (one of the women) a lot.” “Information from both inmates and staff members were confirmed through the course of this investigating validating that inappropriate relationships were ongoing between these contractors and inmates,” the report stated. There have been no allegations of criminal activity to date. Scott Basquin, spokesman for MANCI, said Aramark employees have been working at MANCI in food service since Sept. 8. He did not know how many Aramark employees are working at MANCI. “It’s changing daily,” Basquin said. The union representing the majority of corrections employees in the ODRC stated it will be on alert during the transition period to a private food service vendor. “We will be vigilant and watching to be sure that Aramark maintains its contractual obligation and sustains an adequate level of security in the prisons,” said OCSEA President Christopher Mabe. “We will be monitoring this contract very closely.” The corrections employees in food service were there for decades, Mabe said. “These stories are just the beginning. This isn’t the only institution,” he said. The union says the takeover will continue to weaken security in Ohio’s prisons since private food service workers are not trained in protection and security and cannot respond to emergencies. Mabe said this is a warning sign the union has talked about in using mass amounts of private contractors in the department of corrections. “Nobody’s freedoms should be left up to the highest bidder,” Mabe said. “And for-profit companies, that’s what they deal with. When you take away a person’s freedoms through incarceration, there should be no-profit motive behind that.

 

Mahoning County Jail
Mahoning, Ohio 
Prison Medical Services

November 25, 2002
Mahoning County will pay more next year to provide medical services for county jail inmates.  The county has contracted with Prison Medical Services of Brentwood, Tenn., since the jail on Fifth Avenue opened in 1996. In December, commissioners increased the monthly payment to PMS by $13,000, for a total of $102,000.  The company had threatened to drop the county without the increase because it was losing too much money.  To help keep the cost down, commissioners will probably have to give up an indemnification clause that has shielded the county from incurring any costs for medical treatment required by inmates who are transferred to a hospital or special treatment facility outside the jail.  Under those terms, the contract would cost the county $1,409,364 a year, which is an increase of $183,186 over what the county pays now.  (The Vindicator)

Miami Fort Power Plant
Cleves, Ohio
Wackenhut (Group 4)

December 20, 2004 Cincinnati Enquirer
A security guard at a Cinergy power plant in Cleves has been accused of making a false report of a bomb threat and other security breaches. Adam D. Griffin, 19, of Lawrenceburg, Ind., was charged inducing panic, a fourth-degree felony, and three misdemeanor counts of making a false alarm, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's office. Griffin is an employee of Wackenhut Security Corp. and was working as a night security guard at Cinergy's Miami Fort power station.

Northeast Integration Center
Cleveland, Ohio
The rape of a Cleveland woman at a downtown jail is just one ugly part in a series of lawsuits aimed at the state over the use of controversial private food service company, Aramark. Originally hired on in 2013 after the state cut ties with the public employee union that previously handled the culinary responsibilities at Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction facilities, the company is now being hit with complaints and legal action, according to a recent rundown by the Columbus Dispatch. The latest reporting tracks with Scene's own hard look at the company's track record in Ohio and Michigan. The Cleveland inmate, serving a six-year sentence, was harassed and eventually raped in May 2015 in the kitchen at the Northeast Integration Center on E. 30th near downtown. Her assailant, an Aramark employee named Jonathan Velez, was eventually arrested and charged with the crime. But according to lawsuits the victim has filed in state and federal court, Aramark knew Velez was messing with prisoners but failed to stop the inappropriate behavior. And as the Dispatch reports, this is just the tip of the iceberg. According to the paper, 300 Aramark staffers "have been banned from working in state prisons because they imported contraband or committed security violations or other misconduct" since the company took over at ODRC. The Dispatch determined an average of seven company employees were banned each moth. One-hundred-and-sixty-eight Aramarkers were dismissed for “unprofessional and inappropriate relationships” with prisoners. Employee misbehavior and criminality are not the only problem. The company has also been accused to providing disgusting food to prisoners. As Scene reported in February 2015, Ohio "cited Aramark 240 times in 2014 for shorting inmates on food. The state's prison kitchens have also seen issues with maggots, mice turds, employee shortages, substandard food, and unsanitary conditions."

Northeast Ohio Correctional Center
Youngstown, Ohio
CCA
Apr 19, 2016 cleveland.com
Jimmy Dimora agrees to settle lawsuit over slip-and-fall at Youngstown prison
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora has agreed to settle his lawsuit against a private prison company over a 2012 slip and fall at a Youngstown prison. U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson in Youngstown signed an order last week that said Dimora and Corrections Corporation of America "have reached a settlement in principle." This means that a general idea of a settlement has been reached but a deal may not be finalized. Pearson dismissed the lawsuit "without prejudice," meaning that the case can be refiled should a deal fall through. Details of the agreement were not immediately available. Attorneys for Dimora and Corrections Corporation of America did not return phone calls. Dimora, 60, fell in April 2012 at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center. At the time, he was jailed for less than two months and had not yet been sentenced for his federal racketeering and corruption convictions. He is now serving 28 years in a federal prison in West Virginia for racketeering and corruption charges. His lawsuit sought at least $50,000 in damages from Corrections Corporation of America. Pearson in March largely ruled in Dimora's favor when the prison company asked her to dismiss the lawsuit. Pearson's order makes mention of a dispute over unpaid legal fees between Dimora and Lillie & Holderman, a Cleveland law firm that represented the former county commissioner at the beginning of his corruption case. The firm is seeking to collect on a nearly $80,000 judgment, plus interest, filed against Dimora in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. A lawsuit filed in March is asking a judge to have Corrections Corporation of America put part or all of the settlement toward the judgment before giving any money to Dimora. Corrections Corporation of America lost its contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to house its inmates at the Youngstown facility in 2014. The U.S. Marshals Service still uses the facility to house inmates who are awaiting trial or sentencing.

Mar 5, 2016 cleveland.com
Jimmy Dimora's slip-and-fall lawsuit should go to trial, judge rules
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A federal judge on Friday allowed a lawsuit filed by former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora over a slip-and-fall at a Youngstown prison to proceed to trial.  U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson wrote in a nine-page order that a jury should decide whether Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that owned the prison, is liable for the injuries he suffered when he slipped in puddle. The company argued that the pool of water was "open and obvious," and that it was not required to warn inmates of a potential hazard. Pearson wrote that "the question of whether something is open and obvious cannot always be decided as a matter of law simply because it may have been visible." Dimora fell in April 2012. At the time, he had been incarcerated for less than two months and had not yet been sentenced for his federal racketeering and corruption convictions. He is now serving 28 years in a federal prison in Victorville, California in the Mojave Desert. His lawsuit, seeks at least $50,000 in damages from Corrections Corporation of America, and accused the company of negligence and emotional distress. Pearson dismissed the of emotional distress charge and wrote that that Dimora abandoned the claim in his filings. She wrote that the private prison company's actions "did not rise to the level of being so extreme and outrageous 'as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency..." The company originally argued that Dimora did not comply with the prison's grievance policy and that his case should be dismissed. Pearson noted in her opinion that Corrections Corporation of America did not originally raise this as a possible defense when it responded to Dimora's lawsuit.  The company dropped the argument in a filing in February. Corrections Corporation of America lost its contract with the federal prison bureau to house its inmates at the Youngstown facility in 2014. The U.S. Marshals Service still uses the facility to house inmates who are awaiting trial or sentencing.


May 29, 2015
wfmj.com
Jobs end for more than 100 at Youngstown private prison

The end of May means the end of employment for 103 employees of the privately operated prison in Youngstown. The Corrections Corporation of America is laying off workers at the Hubbard Road prison this weekend when a contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons expires at midnight Saturday. CCA says that thirty employees have either transferred permanently, or are working on temporary assignment at other facilities operated by the company. When the Bureau of Prisons announced in December that a CCA competitor was awarded the contract to house federal prisoners, approximately 400 people were still employed. CCA still has a contract with the U.S. Marshals Service to house prisoners awaiting trial that won't expire until at least 2018.


May 6, 2015 vindy.com
With the city of Youngstown bracing for a bumpy fiscal ride next year, Mayor John A. McNally had little choice but to tackle one of the big-ticket items in the budget. However, aware of the explosive nature of the issue, McNally showed foresight in engaging all interested parties in the development of a solution. The result: Significant changes to employee health insurance that will result in the cost of the plan going up less than it would have had nothing been done. But doing nothing was not an option for city government, considering that the revenue streams for 2016 and 2017 are expected to be drier than they are this year. Youngstown is no different from other older urban communities: The population is declining; the income-tax base is shrinking; neighborhoods are being undermined by the growing number of dilapidated structures and crime; and, the public school system is a contributing factor to the exodus of families with school-age children. The mayor previously has talked about some of the red flags the city of Youngstown must pay attention to, including: The loss of income tax revenue as a result of the private prison on Hubbard Road losing a major U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ contract to house federal inmates. The expected closing of the U.S. Postal Service’s distribution center. The furlough of workers at the new Vallourec Star steel-pipe making, state-of-the-art complex on Route 422 due to the fact that oil and gas exploration has taken a hit with the steep drop in oil and gas prices. Vallourec Star opened with the expectation of riches for the cities of Youngstown and Girard, not only because of the agreements reached, but because of the company’s average yearly wage of $50,000-plus. Against that bleak financial backdrop, Youngstown city government has no choice but to cut costs. And since most of the operating budget goes for employee wages and benefits, the need to lower that tab is obvious.

MAYOR’S COMMENTS: In commenting on the changes to the health insurance plan, Mayor McNally said, “I’m very appreciative of the work done by all of the committee members. People expect us in the public sector to pay more attention to health care costs, and we did. This allows our employees to make decisions that are best for them and their families.” The mayor is absolutely right: Private-sector taxpayers who have been bearing an increasing portion of the health care costs — if health insurance is even offered by their employers — have long wondered why their employees (public-sector workers) haven’t had to pay their fair share for coverage. Indeed, one of the most important changes made to the city’s health insurance policy has to do with deductibles. Until last week when city council and the board of control approved the new plan, developed by a 17-member management-employee health-insurance review committee, city workers did not pay a medical deductible. How is that possible? Because it’s the public sector — which has yet to catch up with the private sector when it comes to sharing the cost of benefits with the employer. That said, we do applaud Youngstown government for recognizing that the status quo — read that, lucrative wages and benefits — is no longer sustainable. The changes to the health insurance plan must be only the first step in a complete reassessment of the benefit package.


Apr 12, 2015
vindy.com

If you make a deal with the Devil there will be Hell to pay

Absent an unequivocal state- ment from the chief executive officer of Corrections Corporation of America about the future of its prison in Youngstown, city officials should err on the side of caution and prepare for the worst. Why? Because CCA’s recent announcement that 185 employees would be terminated May 30 at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center was couched in language that must have given government officials cold sweats. Indeed, Mayor John A. McNally would do well to instruct the finance department to calculate the economic loss to the city and the region if the 2,015-bed facility closed its doors. And before we’re criticized for indulging in idle speculation, consider this fact: The mayor received a letter from Atty. Andrea Cooper, CCA’s senior director of human-resources compliance, that not only served notice of the permanent reduction in payroll, but also explained that the termination of the 185 employees is being triggered by a “facility closing.” The letter was issued to meet the requirements of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act [WARN], which requires 60 days’ notice of closings and layoffs at large facilities. Atty. Cooper sought to walk back the contents of her letter when questioned by The Vindicator, saying that “the facility itself is not shuttering” because CCA has another contract to house federal inmates. She then referred further questions to Jonathan Burns, the Nashville-based corporation’s senior manager of public affairs. But rather than provide reassurance, Burns’ comments simply added to the uncertainty. He said CCA would cancel the WARN notice and cancel or reduce the 185 furloughs if the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road gets sufficient inmates from other sources to replace the 1,400 federal inmates who have been transferred to two other facilities. The federal Bureau of Prisons decided not to renew its contract with CCA. The company has a separate U.S. Marshals Service contract to house 580 inmates at NEOCC. It expires Dec. 31, 2018. CLEAR STATEMENT NEEDED Given all of the uncertainty surrounding the future of the 18-year-old facility, we believe a clear statement from Damon Hininger, president and CEO, is necessary. The city of Youngstown has been a good host, and despite some major operational and management problems at the private prison, City Hall has remained steadfast in its support. Indeed, a majority of the residents have welcomed the facility’s presence because of the jobs that have been created and the economic impact it has had in the Mahoning Valley. It’s not just the income taxes paid by the several hundred employees, but the multiplier effect of the $12.7 million payroll and $4.3 million in property taxes and for utilities and local goods and services. There’s a lot at stake, which is why we have been harshly critical of CCA for not making public the reasons given by the federal bureau for not renewing the contract. How can this region help the company secure other government contracts if we don’t know why Washington decided to go in a different direction? Was cost a factor? Did the NOCC fail to meet federal standards? Or, was it political? As we have pointed out previously, this area has two members of Congress who are in a position to act on CCA’s behalf, but Democrat Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, and Republican Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, need information about what’s going on with CCA and with the private prison in Youngstown. It’s time for full disclosure. CCA owes that much to the people of the Mahoning Valley.


Apr 12, 2015 vindy.com
Absent an unequivocal state- ment from the chief executive officer of Corrections Corporation of America about the future of its prison in Youngstown, city officials should err on the side of caution and prepare for the worst. Why? Because CCA’s recent announcement that 185 employees would be terminated May 30 at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center was couched in language that must have given government officials cold sweats. Indeed, Mayor John A. McNally would do well to instruct the finance department to calculate the economic loss to the city and the region if the 2,015-bed facility closed its doors. And before we’re criticized for indulging in idle speculation, consider this fact: The mayor received a letter from Atty. Andrea Cooper, CCA’s senior director of human-resources compliance, that not only served notice of the permanent reduction in payroll, but also explained that the termination of the 185 employees is being triggered by a “facility closing.” The letter was issued to meet the requirements of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act [WARN], which requires 60 days’ notice of closings and layoffs at large facilities. Atty. Cooper sought to walk back the contents of her letter when questioned by The Vindicator, saying that “the facility itself is not shuttering” because CCA has another contract to house federal inmates. She then referred further questions to Jonathan Burns, the Nashville-based corporation’s senior manager of public affairs. But rather than provide reassurance, Burns’ comments simply added to the uncertainty. He said CCA would cancel the WARN notice and cancel or reduce the 185 furloughs if the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road gets sufficient inmates from other sources to replace the 1,400 federal inmates who have been transferred to two other facilities. The federal Bureau of Prisons decided not to renew its contract with CCA. The company has a separate U.S. Marshals Service contract to house 580 inmates at NEOCC. It expires Dec. 31, 2018. CLEAR STATEMENT NEEDED Given all of the uncertainty surrounding the future of the 18-year-old facility, we believe a clear statement from Damon Hininger, president and CEO, is necessary. The city of Youngstown has been a good host, and despite some major operational and management problems at the private prison, City Hall has remained steadfast in its support. Indeed, a majority of the residents have welcomed the facility’s presence because of the jobs that have been created and the economic impact it has had in the Mahoning Valley. It’s not just the income taxes paid by the several hundred employees, but the multiplier effect of the $12.7 million payroll and $4.3 million in property taxes and for utilities and local goods and services. There’s a lot at stake, which is why we have been harshly critical of CCA for not making public the reasons given by the federal bureau for not renewing the contract. How can this region help the company secure other government contracts if we don’t know why Washington decided to go in a different direction? Was cost a factor? Did the NOCC fail to meet federal standards? Or, was it political? As we have pointed out previously, this area has two members of Congress who are in a position to act on CCA’s behalf, but Democrat Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, and Republican Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, need information about what’s going on with CCA and with the private prison in Youngstown. It’s time for full disclosure. CCA owes that much to the people of the Mahoning Valley.


Mar 31, 2015 wkbn.com

Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown, Ohio has lost its federal contract

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown’s private prison, the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, will lose 185 jobs by the end of May. According to the Tribune Chronicle, the company that runs the prison, the Corrections Corporation of America, sent a letter to Youngstown Mayor John McNally saying it had to lay off workers because it lost its contract with the government to keep inmates at the Hubbard Road prison. Around 400 employees work at the facility. The prison will remain open with about half the employees it has now, guarding inmates the U.S. Marshals bring in while they wait to go on trial. Nashville, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America learned Dec. 29 that it had lost its contract with the Bureau of Prisons to another private company. However, the federal contract with the U.S. Marshals Service doesn’t expire until the end of 2018.


Aug 23, 2014 wkbn.com
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – State Rep. Bob Hagan now has a better idea of why inmates at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown staged a demonstration last week. On Friday, Hagan, D-Youngstown, met with the warden, reviewed incident video and personally talked with six inmates. The entire meeting took about 2.5 hours. He is part of the Ohio Correctional Institution Inspection Committee. He said there are three issues inmates are concerned about: Health care, food quality and high prices at the commissary. “Very difficult for one inmate who made $27 a month to pay $4.50 for a jar of peanut butter and their costs were really just knocking them out,” Hagan said. The prices are set by Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the prison. Hagan said prisoners are entitled to basic human rights, and as a member of the committee he has to make sure employees, inmates and people on the outside are treated fairly and protected. One of Hagan’s concerns was why people on the outside did not know what was going on during the demonstration. The warden also promised Hagan he would let him know of any incidents. There will be a follow up visit in December to see if improvements have been made. “To make sure there are no more uprisings, that people are in a peaceful way, those that protest are in fact given the opportunity to in fact say and do what they have to do to make sure they are treated fairly,” Hagan said. He said he watched video of the non-violent demonstration several times and counted three times the warden talked with inmates in the yard.


Aug 21, 2014 vindy.com

Mayor John McNally met Wednesday with officials from the private prison where last week prisoners staged a protest, regarding proper notification procedures. Under the city’s agreement with Corrections Corporations of America, the Nashville- based company that runs the prison on the city’s East Side, the city is to be notified immediately of any unusual events, McNally said. The police chief and law director also are to receive a written report within 24 hours, he said. Although those steps weren’t followed last week, McNally said the company assured him proper steps will be followed should future events occur. The protest dealt with inmates’ issues with the quality of healthcare and food at the facility, the mayor said.

 

Aug 17, 2014 wytv.com

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Ohio Correctional Inspection Committee will tour the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center (CCA) in Youngstown in the wake of an inmate demonstration earlier this week. A meeting was held Friday between Youngstown Mayor John McNally, State Representative Bob Hagan and CCA officials to discuss Tuesday’s incident where about 140 inmates refused to come in from a recreation area in protest to inmate treatment and food service at the prison. The demonstration ended peacefully several hours later. Hagan and McNally discussed the closed-door meeting with reporters saying it was “cordial” and new procedures have been set in place. “There were some things they did not do right. From this point forward, there is a clear understanding that they are going to do everything that is required of them, both at the state level and the contractual level at the city,” Hagan said. A contract between the city and CCA requires prison officials to call police immediately when disturbances or other unusual events take place. It took CCA officials almost 24 hours to contact city officials after Tuesday’s incident. Hagan, who sits on the Ohio Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, attempted to enter the prison shortly after the protest but was turned away. He said after Friday’s meeting, CCA officials assured him that he would be welcome to sit in on any investigation or interviews regarding the matter. Lawmakers sitting on the Ohio Correctional Institution Inspection Committee will tour the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Friday, August 22.

 

August 15, 2014 vindy.com

Mayor John A. McNally is meeting today with representatives from Corrections Corporation of America to talk about the company’s obligation to report information to the city in “unusual events.” McNally said he certainly thinks the event, which started about 2 p.m. Tuesday and continued to 4 a.m. Wednesday, in which 140 inmates at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road refused to leave the prison yard in protest, qualifies as an unusual event. CCA, based in Tennessee, owns NEOCC, and is one of two privately owned prisons in the state. The city found out about the incident when the aunt of an inmate at NEOCC contacted the police department, and the department contacted the prison. “The way things happened isn’t the way it’s supposed to happen,” McNally said. “We want to remind CCA of their obligations to the city under the terms of the agreement.” It’s especially important to do this now with a new police chief and law director, the mayor added. The agreements have been in place for 12 or 13 years, he said. After the meeting, McNally said he believes “the city will receive the type of notification it should from CCA in the future.” The notification issue hasn’t come up because there haven’t been major issues at the prison, he said. Up to this point, CCA representatives have declined to provide an explanation for the inmates’ refusal to leave the prison yard. State Rep. Robert Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, said the prison is investigating the incident. Hagan is a member of the Ohio General Assembly’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee. Hagan went to the prison Wednesday and attempted to speak with the inmates but was rebuffed so he wouldn’t interfere with the prison’s investigation. The American Civil Liberties Union is working against attempts by CCA to secure a new federal contract to house inmates at the prison. The pact expires May 15, 2015. Mike Brickner from the ACLU in Cleveland said the organization has been made aware of issues at the penal institutions, including a lack of programming for inmates, little training for staff, poor food and a lack of understanding of the rules by both inmates and staff.


Aug 14, 2014 vindy.com

Questions are being raised after a number of prisoners staged a protest at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road. Approximately 140 inmates refused to leave the recreation yard for 14 hours, though prison officials said the situation ended peacefully early Wednesday. The private facility provided scant answers to media inquiries about the episode, however. The aunt of one of the inmates and a local politician are among those asking questions. Corrections Corporation of America, which owns NEOCC, said in a statement: “Overnight, staff at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center secured a peaceful resolution to an incident in which a group of inmates on the smaller recreation yard refused orders to return to their cells. All inmates have now peacefully exited the recreation yard and are secured in their cells. “At no time did any incidents of violence occur, and the community was not in danger. All staff and inmates are accounted for. The facility is secured and remains in lockdown as a precautionary measure while an investigation is conducted. Facility management notified its partner, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and kept officials apprised through the duration of the incident.” CCA has declined to provide any additional comment. State Rep. Robert Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, a member of the Ohio General Assembly’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, was able to enter the prison Wednesday. Hagan said officials inside told him anywhere from 40 to 240 prisoners were involved and the protest lasted from 2 p.m. Tuesday until 4 a.m. Wednesday. “I attempted to interview the spokesman for the prisoners, but the warden nixed that,” he said. “He said I wasn’t going to be allowed to interfere with their investigation.” Hagan said he wished he had been able to get more information. “I’m not satisfied. We need more transparency,” he said. The CIIC plans to conduct a investigation of the NEOCC within the next few weeks to find out more, Hagan said. The American Civil Liberties Union has had anonymous conversations with current and past NEOCC employees who acknowledge the same issues that inmates have, said Mike Brickner from the ACLU in Cleveland. The issues include a lack of programming for inmates, little training for staff, poor food and a lack of understanding of the rules by both inmates and staff, he said. Warden Mike Pugh spoke to the Youngstown Police Department about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday and informed the city that while the inmates were refusing to leave the yard, the situation was peaceful and the prison did not need any assistance, according to a YPD report. The call from YPD was initiated after a call to the police from Ligia Cabrera of the Bronx, N.Y., whose nephew, Hector Mercedes, is an inmate. Cabrera said her nephew called her Tuesday and said there was a riot going on at the prison. “He asked me to call the police, media — anyone who could get them some help — and then the call disconnected,” Cabrera said. “I called the prison today, and they told me he was safe and still there, but that was all that they could tell me.” Cabrera said she was considering coming to Youngstown to check on the condition of her nephew and was still hoping to get more information. Neither city police nor the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office was called to assist. The Ohio State Highway Patrol did have a supervisor at the prison to provide assistance if needed, but it was not. If any inmates are to be charged in connection with Tuesday’s events, those charges would have to come from either the YPD or FBI because the NEOCC is a private prison. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction was made aware of the episode but has little information because the prison does not house any state inmates, said JoEllen Smith, ODRC spokeswoman. All the men housed at the prison are federal inmates. The state has a working relationship with private prisons, and they do share information, she said. CCA is seeking a renewal for the NEOCC contract with the federal government to house inmates at the site. The contract expires May 31, 2015. The ACLU opposes the contract renewal. Brickner said the lack of information that is available in episodes such as Tuesday’s is part of the reason why the organization opposes a new pact. “Frankly, one of the problems with private facilities is that you can’t get information in situations like this,” he said. There are times when something serious will happen at a private prison, and because of the secrecy, the community will have no idea that something occurred, Brickner said. There would be considerably more information available about what happened at NEOCC if it had occurred at a state-run prison, he said. If there were a critical incident, “there would be an administrative and potentially a criminal investigation completed. There would also be an after-action review conducted to review any actions taken to restore order,” Smith said. “Typically, when dealing with prisons, you get two stories: one from inmates and another from corrections officers,” Brickner said. Brickner pointed to a federal lawsuit filed by inmate Christopher Oguaju as a good example of the alleged issues at the site. Oguaju filed the suit on his own, and the ACLU is not involved in the case, Brickner said. The lawsuit complains about inadequate staffing at the prison and improper care for inmates with medical conditions, and says inmates are abandoned and unsupervised in some areas because of low staffing numbers. Oguaju’s lawsuit further claims the low staffing has made the facility dangerous due to the presence of suspected gang members from various Mexican drug cartels and puts unaffiliated inmates in risk of physical harm.

 

Aug 13, 2104 vindy.com

Northeast Ohio Correctional Center went on lockdown status late Tuesday afternoon after a group of inmates in the prison’s recreation yard refused orders to return to their cells. The private prison at 2240 Hubbard Road is operated by Community Corrections Association based in Nashville, Tenn. Candace Rivera, the prison’s public information officer, said in a statement shortly after 6 p.m. that all staff and inmates were accounted for and facility management communicated with inmates “to resolve the matter peacefully.” The statement says there were no incidents of violence, the facility was secured, and “the community was not in danger.” According to Vindicator archives, the prison’s contract with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is to house 1,507 immigrant prisoners at NEOCC, and it expires May 31, 2015. The prison has been urging residents to contact politicians to support a contract renewal. The prison holds 2,148 inmates, according to last year’s state inspection report, and employs 443, operating on a $20 million payroll. It opened in 1997. The American Civil Liberties Union, however, is seeking an end to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ contract with NEOCC. Its objection is based on a national report alleging abuse at CCA prisons in Texas, including isolation, lack of appropriate medical care, overpopulation, lack of prisoner programming and recreation, restrictions of family visits, a culture of secrecy and a lack of accountability. The statement issued by the prison Tuesday said “a group of inmates on the smaller recreation yard refused orders to return to their cells.” Residents of nearby streets, Wydestreet Avenue and Trussit Avenue, reported not seeing anything out of the ordinary. A 2013 state inspection conducted by eight members of the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee found the facility had few dangerous incidents because it houses a low-security inmate population. However, the report noted that NEOCC regularly assigns three inmates per cell, which could pose a security risk.


Jun 4, 2014 wfmj.com

A counselor who works at a private prison in Youngstown faces federal charges for allegedly engaging in, or attempting to engage in sex acts with a federal inmate. Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, announced that a federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging Nicole White, age 34, of Boardman, Ohio, with sexual abuse of a ward. The indictment charges that on or about October 2013, White, who was a Correctional Counselor at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, engaged and attempted to engage in sexual acts with a federal inmate at the facility. White is scheduled to be arraigned on June 18 in U.S. District Court in Youngstown. If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations.


May 6, 2014 The Columbus Dispatch 

Corrupt Cleveland politician Jimmy Dimora figures someone owes him money for injuries he says he suffered in a fall in prison. But a negligence lawsuit filed by Dimora’s lawyer last month in the Ohio Court of Claims against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction aside, the agency doesn’t owe him a cent. The ex-Cuyahoga County commissioner, serving 28 years on federal racketeering and bribery convictions, says he was hurt at the privately operated Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown. Dimora’s lawsuit seeking more than $50,000 in damages from the state claims that the prison, owned by the Corrections Corp. of America, “operates in accordance with a contractual agreement” with the state prison system. The state has no contract with the private prison, said state prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith. Dennis Lieberman, a Dayton lawyer representing Dimora, did not respond yesterday to messages seeking comment. Corrections Corp. of America did, however, buy the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Ashtabula County from the prisons department and houses prisoners under a contract with the state. Dimora, 58, says he received unspecified injuries on May 4, 2012, when he fell because of a puddle of water caused by a leaking roof. He seeks damages including medical expenses and infliction of emotional distress. After suing the state, Dimora filed a near-identical lawsuit in Mahoning County against the private prison and the Corrections Corp. of America. The company did not respond to requests for comment. Dimora, whose bid for a new trial recently was rejected by the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, now is being held in the medium-security Victorville federal prison in California. He was convicted in 2012 of soliciting and accepting expensive meals, home improvements, trips and other items, some as part of an FBI sting, from people seeking to do business with the county.


July 20, 2013 vindy.com
The Corrections Corp. of America hopes local residents will write to their elected officials soon, urging them to support continued use of CCA’s Northeast Ohio Correctional Center to house U.S. Bureau of Prisons inmates. That’s because CCA must submit a competitive proposal to the bureau by Aug. 15 if it wants to continue to house the federally convicted and sentenced undocumented immigrants BOP sends to the local correctional center on Hubbard Road. Those inmates constitute about 75 percent of the approximately 2,000 prisoners housed at NEOCC. CCA’s contract with BOP to house those inmates here at $69.72 per inmate per day for 1,507 inmates expires May 31, 2015, BOP said. In a letter to Mayor Charles Sammarone, CCA officials said the loss of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons contract here would cause the elimination of most of the 418 jobs at NEOCC. The Hubbard Road prison has an annual payroll of $21.7 million, the letter said. “Since 2005, NEOCC has paid almost $157 million in local payroll, almost $14 million on utilities and more than $10 million in local taxes — for a total direct local economic impact of more than $180 million,” the letter said. The letter said CCA fears BOP may consolidate NEOCC’s current contract with another contract held by the Moshannon Valley Correctional Center in Phillipsburg, Pa., which is in rural central Pennsylvania. That contract, which expires April 1, 2016, is for 1,820 inmates at $65.22 per inmate per day, BOP said. “One facility will receive the contract, and the other will have to scale back or close,” CCA brass told the mayor. One of the company’s challenges will be to address “BOP’s interest in reducing costs,” they added. Chris Burke, BOP public affairs specialist, said the agency is not consolidating contracts, but it needs about 2,000 inmate beds in the region consisting of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and New York. “All proposals are evaluated based on price and nonprice evaluation criteria,” Burke said. “Award selection will be made based on a best-value basis for the government,” he added. Sammarone said he supported NEOCC when it opened in 1997 and fully supports efforts to keep the federal prisoner housing contract here now. “I continue to support CCA. They hire many people that are city residents, and they create jobs for the whole Youngstown community,” Sammarone said. “Keeping this facility open and operating at full capacity is important to me — but especially important to those families who make a living there. I have expressed my concerns with the federal Bureau of Prisons and urged them to give the NEOCC proposal its strongest consideration,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Ryan of Niles, D-13th. “In spite of local signs of economic strength, we still have too many people unemployed and need to ensure that the Bureau of Prisons understands the economic impact of their decision on the Mahoning Valley,” the congressman said. “We feel confident that we can be competitive,” said Tony Grande, chief development officer for the Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA. “In many of these procurements, it comes down to pennies” of cost difference per inmate per day between facilities, he added. Steven Owen, the corrections corporation’s senior director of public affairs, said community support for retention of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons inmates here will be important in the federal government’s decision-making process. NEOCC is independently accredited by the American Correctional Association, which Owen described as “the gold standard in this country for correctional management.” Because the BOP inmates already have been sentenced, the proximity of NEOCC to federal courts in Youngstown, Akron, Cleveland and Pittsburgh isn’t likely to be a major advantage for the Hubbard Road prison, said Bart VerHulst, CCA’s vice president of federal partnership relations. “Unlike other industries that you see come and go, we can’t pick up and go somewhere else,” Grande said of the Youngstown prison, which he said likely would cost $120 million to $150 million to replace. “We made a commitment to this community.”


October 19, 2012 Vindy.com
YOUNGSTOWN--A private-prison owner is appealing a judge’s decision that the city didn’t violate laws when it enacted a $1-per-prisoner, per-day tax on inmates at the lockup while the city filed a court complaint seeking to collect $1.5 million from the company in back fees. The two cases are running parallel paths in the 7th District Court of Appeals and in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of common pleas court ruled in May that the city didn’t violate the state or federal constitutions or the city charter when city council approved legislation to tax private prisons, effective December 2009. Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit company based in Nashville, Tenn., and owner of Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road, filed a lawsuit in January 2010 contending the city’s prison-tax ordinance violated laws. CCA’s facility is the only private prison in the city, housing about 1,500 illegal immigrants convicted of felonies through a contract it has with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. CCA filed an appeal Sept. 13 in the appellate court of Judge Krichbaum’s ruling. The city has until next Thursday to file a brief in response. Meanwhile, the city filed a complaint against CCA in common pleas court seeking to compel the company to pay about $1.5 million in back fees and interest. CCA approached the city to settle the matter for significantly less money than the $1-a-day amount it hasn’t paid for nearly three years, said city Law Director Anthony Farris. Part of that informal proposal also included paying a lot less in future fees, said Farris, who didn’t have the figures available Thursday. The city rejected the offer, Farris said. The city filed the complaint because even though Judge Krichbaum ruled against CCA, “we had to file a suit to get the money,” Farris said. Steve Owens, CCA’s spokesman, said, “We believe the $1-per-inmate tax imposed by the city council is not only invalid but unwarranted, and we are pursuing the same due-process rights that are afforded to all individuals and businesses. Our company believes we have a compelling case to make, but we have not yet been given the opportunity to present it.”

October 5th, 2012 Citybeat.com
Private Prison Violates State Rules. Audit finds Northeast Ohio prison in compliance with only two-thirds of state standard. A recent audit of the Ohio prison bought by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) found the private prison is only meeting 66.7 percent of the state’s standards. The report found a total of 47 violations in the CCA-owned prison, which the state government sold to CCA last year as part of a privatization push set out in Ohio’s 2012-13 budget. The news comes slightly more than two weeks after CityBeat published a story looking at the many problems presented by Ohio’s policy to privatize prisons (“Liberty for Sale,” issue of Sept. 19). “It was apparent throughout certain departments that DRC policy and procedure is not being followed,” the audit said. “Staff was interviewed and some stated they are not sure what to do because of the confusion between CCA policy and DRC policy. Some staff expressed safety concerns due to low staffing numbers and not having enough coverage. Other staff stated that there is increased confusion due to all the staffing transitions.” The report says “there has been a big staff turnover,” and only one staff person was properly trained to meet Ohio Risk Assessment System standards. The audit found that a workplace violence liaison wasn’t appointed or trained. Inmates complained they felt unsafe and that staff “had their hands tied’” and “had little control over some situations.” The local fire plan had no specific steps to release inmates from locked areas in case of emergency, and local employees said “they had no idea what they should do” in case of a fire emergency. The audit also found all housing units provided less than the required 25 square feet on unencumbered space per occupant. It found single watch cells held two prisoners with some sleeping on the floor, and some triple-bunked cells had a third inmate sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Searches in general seemed to be a problem for CCA. Documentation showed that contraband searches were only done 16 days in August. When the searches were done, the contraband was not properly processed to the vault and was sometimes left in desks. The private prison also could not provide documentation that proved executive staff conducting weekly rounds to informally observe living and working conditions among inmates and staff. These findings, although major, are only the tip of the iceberg: Inmates claimed laundry and cell cleaning services were not provided and CCA could not prove otherwise, recreation time was not always allowed five times a week in segregation as required, food quality and sanitization was not up to standards, infirmary patients were “not seen timely,” patients’ doctor appointments were often delayed with follow-ups rarely occurring, the facility had no written confined space program, the health care administrator could not explain or show an overall plan and nursing competency evaluations were not completed before the audit was conducted. Many more issues were found as well. The one bright spot in the report is ODRC found staff to be “very professional, friendly and helpful during the audit.” Inmates were also “dressed appropriately and found to be wearing their identification badges.”

June 7, 2012 The Vindicator
Remember when the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Youngstown’s North Side was being mothballed because it lost its contracts to house prisoners from Washington, D.C.? The warden at the time, Brian Gardner, issued this appeal to city council: “We feel confident in asking your help in obtaining contracts in an effort to keep 500 plus jobs in the Valley. We are not asking for maximum security inmates here.” That was in May of 2001. The prison closed, but then reopened in 2004 after the U.S. Bureau of Prisons awarded a contract to Corrections Corporation of America of Nashville, the parent company of NOCC. How did that contract come about? Certainly not because CCA had a magic wand or had the political muscle to flex in Washington. Here’s what we said in an editorial published Dec. 26, 2004: “Two years ago, Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine urged the U.S. government to buy the then mothballed private prison on Hubbard Road in Youngstown because of the growing need for housing federal inmates. Officials of the Bureau of Prisons weren’t enthusiastic. Congress had authorized the construction of 12 new facilities, and that’s what the bureaucrats in Washington seemed to want. “But DeWine, a member of the Senate Appropriations and Judiciary committees, would not take ‘no’ for an answer. He rallied local officials, including U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, and Youngstown Mayor George M. McKelvey, opened lines of communications with executives of Corrections Corporation of America … and established a relationship with the decision-makers in the bureau of prisons.” In December 2004, DeWine announced that the bureau of prisons had awarded a contract to CCA resulting in 1,195 male prisoners classified as low security being assigned to Youngstown. Most of the inmates are designated “criminal aliens” because they entered the country illegally and committed some type of federal crime. DeWine is now Ohio’s attorney general. CCA was to be paid $129 million over the four-year term and was given three two-year options. Why bring up the past? Because the private prison operator seems to have forgotten what this region did to help it reopen the facility. That’s the only explanation we can come up with for CCA’s rejection of a $1 per prisoner tax imposed by city council in 2009. The company went to court challenging the constitutionality of the tax. Court ruling -- Recently, Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge R. Scott Krichbaum ruled that the city did not violate the U.S. or Ohio constitutions or the city’s home rule charter. But that isn’t the end of it. CCA intends to appeal, which is the company’s right. However, we would remind the executives in Nashville that when they needed this region’s help in reopening the private prison, there was no hesitation. The support for the facility has been unwavering. It is also worth noting that when Mahoning County had a contract to house federal prisoners, it subcontracted with NOCC. The county was paid $3 per prisoner by Corrections Corporation of America. Youngstown is only asking for $1 a prisoner, and for the 2 1/2 years since the tax was imposed, the tab is $1.3 million. That’s a pittance compared to what CCA is earning through its contract with the federal government.

May 26, 2012 The Vindicator
A judge ruled the city didn’t violate any laws when it enacted a $1 per-prisoner, per-day tax on private prisons. The decision means Corrections Corporation of America owes the city about $1.3 million for federal prisoners at its Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road. But the company will appeal, said Steve Owen, its spokesman. “We’re disappointed with the ruling, and we do intend to pursue all of our procedural avenues, including filing an appeal,” he said. Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court ruled Tuesday for summary judgment in favor of the city. “We’ve made it through the process, and [CCA] is 2 1/2 years behind on payments,” said city Law Director Anthony Farris. “We think this is a fair fee imposed, and it should be paid. We’re looking for all of the back money, but we’re willing to listen to what else they have to say.” As a way to generate more income at a time when the city’s government was facing serious financial challenges, city council approved legislation in November 2009, effective Dec. 1 of that year, taxing private prisons in Youngstown $1 a day for each convict it houses. Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, the private prison owned by CCA, is the only facility that falls into that category. The prison, which has a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, houses about 1,500 illegal aliens convicted of felonies. In January 2010, Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit company based in Nashville, Tenn., filed a lawsuit contending the city ordinance violates the U.S. and Ohio constitutions and the city charter. In his eight-page decision, the judge said the city law doesn’t violate the federal or state constitutions, or the city charter.

January 4, 2012 Salem News
Adolph Goodman, 33, Youngstown, was arrested at 12:38 a.m. Sunday for escaping from the Corrections Corporation of America Correctional Facility in Youngstown earlier that evening. He also had an active warrant out of Delaware County, Pa., for a probation violation. he was turned over the Mahoning County Sheriff's Office.

November 16, 2010 Columbus Dispatch
A woman who was held hostage by an escaped inmate at a Hilliard business in 2007 settled her lawsuit with a private-prison company and two guards today after a week of testimony in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. Karen Zappitelli and her husband, John, reached a confidential settlement with Corrections Corporation of America and the guards as the final witness for the couple was waiting to take the stand this morning, said Rex Elliott, one of the couple's attorneys. "Today is a day where a sense of relief has been provided," Elliott said. "This enables them to close the book on this chapter in their lives." Lawyers for both sides began negotiating this morning at the urging of Judge Michael J. Holbrook. A spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America did not return a message seeking comment. Mrs. Zappitelli, 45, testified yesterday, detailing the three hours she spent as the hostage of fugitive inmate Billy Jack Fitzmorris. He broke into her husband's accounting business on April 2, 2007, at the end of a crime rampage that began when he overpowered the two guards at a Youngstown hospital. When testimony ended yesterday, jurors were hearing from one of two psychologists who diagnosed Mrs. Zappitelli with post-traumatic stress disorder. Mrs. Zappitelli said she has been plagued by anxiety, nightmares, sleeping problems and a fear of being alone since the incident. The lawsuit accused Corrections Corporation of America and the guards, David Johnson and Brian Morgan, of negligence in Fitzmorris' escape and sought monetary damages for the couple's emotional suffering.

November 16, 2010 Columbus Dispatch
After spending three hours as the hostage of an escaped inmate, Karen Zappitelli wanted nothing more than her old life back. "It was like someone stamped freak on my forehead," she testified yesterday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. "I felt like a freak. ... What I craved more than anything was normalcy." Zappitelli spent nearly two hours on the witness stand in a civil lawsuit that she and her husband filed against a private prison and two guards, accusing them of negligence in the escape of Billy Jack Fitzmorris from a Youngstown hospital on April2, 2007. Fitzmorris overpowered the guards, taking one of their guns, and went on a crime rampage that ended at John Zappitelli's accounting firm in Hilliard, where he kicked in the front door and took Karen Zappitelli, who worked as the office manager, captive. The only other employee at the Norwich Street building managed to escape by jumping from a second-floor window. Karen Zappitelli, 45, remained calm and composed throughout her testimony, the same approach that she credited with getting her through the hostage situation. "(Fitzmorris) was totally irrational," she said. "He was a mad, irrational, panicked, desperate man. ... All I could do was stay calm. I didn't want to provoke him." At one point, she asked whether he was Christian and told him she was praying "that we would be brought out of the building alive." For most of the ordeal, they sat on the floor upstairs, where he dragged her after breaking into the business. He sat behind her, one leg wrapped around her, one hand clutching her jacket. He used her cell phone to speak with family members and police negotiators. He finally released her and surrendered after police brought him a pizza. Zappitelli said she has been plagued by sleeping problems, nightmares and anxiety since that day. She testified that she remains afraid of being alone, taking showers only if her husband can be in the bathroom with her. "I feel very vulnerable, knowing there is no safety in a locked door," she said. Defense attorney Dan Struck, representing the guards and Corrections Corporation of America, asked a series of questions designed to show that Zappitelli's life today is much like it was before the incident. He showed pictures from her Facebook page of her enjoying recent trips and holiday gatherings. Zappitelli said Fitzmorris told her that he didn't have a gun, which he had left outside in a car, and assured his family members on the phone that he wouldn't hurt her. The defense is expected to begin calling witnesses today. It will be up to jurors to determine monetary damages if they rule in favor of the Zappitellis.

November 10, 2010 Columbus Dispatch
Billy Jack Fitzmorris escaped custody in April 2007. More than three years have passed since inmate Billy Jack Fitzmorris escaped from guards at a Youngstown hospital and went on a crime rampage that ended with his capture in central Ohio. The woman whom he took hostage at a Hilliard business continues to suffer with "emotional scars that she will have forever," her attorney told a Franklin County jury yesterday. Karen Zappitelli and her husband, John, both 45, are suing a private-prison company and the officers who were guarding Fitzmorris when he escaped on April 2, 2007. Corrections Corporation of America and the guards, David Johnson and Brian Morgan, are responsible for turning the Zappitellis' lives upside down through their negligence, attorney Rex H. Elliott said during opening statements in Common Pleas Court. An attorney for the defendants said the company and the guards had no reason to believe that Fitzmorris was an escape risk or was likely to hurt anyone. The person responsible for Zappitelli's trauma was Fitzmorris, who is not named in the lawsuit, said attorney Tim Bojanowski. Also unnamed is the hospital, St. Elizabeth Medical Center, which he said imposed conditions on the guards that helped lead to the escape. The trial in the courtroom of Judge Michael J. Holbrook is expected to last at least two weeks. If jurors rule in the couple's favor, it would be up to them to decide how much money would be awarded.

May 11, 2010 WFMJ
A woman accused of assaulting a police officer at the scene of a school bus accident last week has escaped from the Mahoning county jail. Officials said Leslie Hood was released by a court order to a Corrections Corporation of America facility Tuesday morning, but fled once she got there. Hood is accused of driving on the sidewalk on Friday to get through an accident scene involving a Howland school bus and a vehicle. Police said Hood bumped an officer with her car twice. She is facing charges of aggravated assault, obstruction of justice and misconduct on the scene of an emergency. A bench warrant is being issued for Hood's arrest.

January 26, 2010 The Vindicator
Corrections Corp. of America, which operates the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road, has sued the city, saying the city’s recently enacted $1 per-prisoner per-day tax on private prisons violates the U.S. and Ohio constitutions and the city charter. A deputy city law director, however, said the prisoner accommodation tax ordinance city council passed last year is valid. The Nashville-based CCA filed the lawsuit Friday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, where the case is assigned to Judge R. Scott Krichbaum. No court hearing has been scheduled. The new tax, which took effect Dec. 1, “discriminates against interstate commerce” in violation of the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, the lawsuit said. Because all inmates at NOCC are prisoners or detainees of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons or the U.S. Marshal’s Service, and CCA is acting as “an instrumentality of the federal government,” the fee also violates the intergovernmental tax immunity doctrine in the supremacy clause of the Constitution, the suit says. The tax violates the equal-protection clauses of the U.S. and Ohio constitutions because “the fee serves no legitimate public purpose, and there is no rational basis for the discrimination between CCA and any other entity housing prisoners within the city,” the suit says. The tax also violates the city charter because council improperly enacted it as an emergency measure and “because it is an occupational tax, which has not been submitted to the electorate,” the corporation’s complaint says. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the corporation by Atty. Timothy J. Bojanowski of Phoenix, asks the court to declare the tax unconstitutional and void it, prohibit the city from collecting it, and bar the city from punishing the corporation for not paying it. Last month, CCA sent the city a letter saying the corporation objected to the tax and wasn’t going to pay it, the lawsuit says. “This is entirely within our rights as a city to do this. It does not violate the interstate commerce clause. ... There is no intent to penalize interstate commerce,” said Anthony Farris, deputy city law director. The ordinance was projected to generate slightly more than $500,000 annually for the city’s general fund, which pays the city’s general expenses, including those of police and fire protection, Farris said. “We believe we are entitled to these proceeds,” Farris said, adding that the city hasn’t yet received any revenue under this ordinance. In June 2009, council passed an emergency ordinance imposing the tax for prisoners convicted of crimes occurring outside Mahoning County, after the city unsuccessfully tried to negotiate such a payment from CCA, Farris said. In response to the corporation’s objections, council amended the ordinance in November to encompass all convicted prisoners housed within the city by a private institution regardless of where their crimes occurred, Farris said. “We analyzed it again, and we wanted to make sure we were absolutely correct so that we would prevail in this litigation should it occur. ... We wanted to make sure that we were absolutely 100 percent right, which we are,” Farris explained. “Their business brings prisoners — criminals — into the area. That’s something that has to be addressed by all aspects of government. There are law-enforcement issues with that. One has to maintain a state of readiness when you have a large amount of criminals in your area, and we feel that that justifies this fee,” Farris concluded.

December 8, 2008 The Vindicator
Mahoning County officials are concerned about the prospect of a direct federal contract with the private prison on Hubbard Road to house revenue-generating federal inmates. County officials fear such a contract may cause a costly reduction after Jan. 1 in the number of federal inmates in the Mahoning County jail. “We’re not going to be able to keep that jail open at the capacity that it is right now,” without about 150 revenue-generating prisoners, either from the federal government or the city, said county Commissioner David N. Ludt. Officials of the county commissioners’, prosecutor’s and sheriff’s offices went to Cleveland last week, where they conferred in chambers with a panel of three federal judges on this issue. County officials sought the meeting with the judges after the Corrections Corp. of America informed them it intended to contract directly with the federal government through the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee to house federal prisoners at CCA’s Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road. The judges then ordered the county to file by Jan. 15 “a comprehensive audit” of county jail operations over the past 18 months. This audit is to include the number and sources of its prisoners, and a statement of revenue from the county sales tax and from federal and city prisoners housed there, and how that revenue has been used. Judges Alice M. Batchelder, David D. Dowd Jr. and Dan Aaron Polster said they need this information before they can decide what, if any, action to take. Sheriff Randall Wellington said his office will perform the audit. Except for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which still pays the old rate of $68.84 a day, the federal government pays the county $80 per prisoner per day for federal inmates it places in the county jail. The city pays $80 a day for each misdemeanor prisoner it places in the county jail beyond its 71st inmate. The total inmate capacity is 458 in the main jail and 96 in the misdemeanor jail. As of midnight Wednesday, there were 423 inmates in the main jail and 82 in the misdemeanor jail, for a total of 505. The federal judges are overseeing compliance with a consent order that settled a federal class action lawsuit won by county jail inmates. That lawsuit, filed in 2003, alleged unconstitutionally crowded conditions prevailed in the jail. The settlement requires that the jail be fully open — as it is now — and it includes the arrangement for revenue-producing city and federal prisoners to be housed there. Without an adequate number of revenue-producing inmates in the jail, the county’s ability to keep the jail fully open is jeopardized, said Glenn Kountz, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 141, which represents deputy sheriffs staffing the jail. “That’s the quagmire we find ourselves in right now,” he observed. However, Kountz, who attended the Cleveland meeting, said the federal judges reported the U.S. Marshals they spoke to expressed no intention to remove federal inmates from the jail. Pete Elliott, U.S. marshal for the Northern District of Ohio, told The Vindicator he does not intend to remove federal inmates from the jail. “There is no crisis,” Wellington said, adding that he foresees no disruption in the flow of federal prisoners to the county jail from ICE or from U.S, marshals in northern or southern Ohio or western New York. Wellington estimated his department now houses just under 150 federal inmates and 20 or fewer revenue-producing city prisoners. In May 2007, when the county resumed housing federal prisoners after a two-year hiatus, the county derived $1,829,982 from housing federal and city prisoners, of which $130,373 came from the city. So far this year, the county has received $4,311,424 for its revenue-generating prisoners, of which $1,066,535 came from the city. The $4.3 million represents more than 21 percent of the sheriff’s $20 million annual budget. In a court filing, lawyers for the county and the prisoners who sued the county said the federal government would no longer need an agreement with the county to house prisoners in its jail if Corrections Corp. of America contracted directly with the federal government to house federal prisoners at CCA’s Hubbard Road facility. “This decision may have a significant impact on the county’s ability to house a sufficient number of federal prisoners and to thereby comply with the consent order and with the boarding of prisoners agreement with the city,” wrote Linette M. Stratford, assistant county prosecutor, and Robert Armbruster, the lawyer for the prisoners who filed the lawsuit. The federal government now has a contract with the county to house its prisoners in the county jail and at NOCC. A change in federal law will allow the federal government to enter into contract directly with a private company, such as the Nashville-based CCA, to house federal prisoners. However, Wellington said: “That doesn’t shut off the faucet for inmates coming here.” Ludt suggested federal officials may be seeking a contract with CCA because they think that company will offer a lower rate than the county. Founded in 2001, the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee is part of the U.S. Department of Justice. A spokeswoman for the trustee said her office has oversight over U.S. Marshals Service detention, but not over Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Bureau of Prisons detention. However, she said ICE and BOP sometimes send prisoners to detention centers under trustee contracts.

September 12, 2008 WFMJ TV
A prisoner who took hostages at Saint Elizabeth Medical Center is on trial. Billie Jack Fitzmorris is in Federal Court in Columbus, charged with escape. Fitzmorris was serving time at Youngstown's private prison last year, but was taken to Saint E's for an illness. Authorities say he took prison guards and hospital workers hostage, then forced an Austintown man to drive him to Columbus where he went on a bank robbery spree. He was eventually caught at a suburban Columbus home, where he held a woman hostage.

March 18, 2008 The Huffington Report
At a moment when Democratic Party officials are urging voters to trust unelected superdelegates to act in the country's best interests, HuffPost's OffTheBus investigation into the background of DNC superdelegates reveals at least one appointed superdelegate who is as likely to use his political connections for personal profit as for the greater good. Take the case of Joseph F. Johnson, a member-at-large of the Democratic National Committee from Chantilliy, Virginia -a suburb of Washington D.C. -- and a superdelegate currently tilting toward Hillary Clinton. Using his web of connections, Johnson successfully lobbied for the construction of a private prison linked to a company on whose board he sat; he managed to have that prison contract with other companies he was linked to; and though the prison became a notorious and dangerous failure, Johnson benefited personally, pulling in millions of dollars in stock options and fees. Johnson first rose through the ranks of the Democratic machine in the early 1990s, as executive director of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition. He brought with him strong ties to D.C. government that he'd built after his first job in the nation's capital, as chief of staff for the city of Washington DC's city council head. He also managed Douglas Wilder's successful campaign to become Virginia's first African-American governor in 1991. And Johnson advised Mark Warner on his successful 2001 gubernatorial bid in Virginia. Johnson's reputation as a mover and shaker in D.C. Democratic politics helped pave the way for his appointment to the board of Corrections Corporation of America, the largest operator of private prisons in the country. While serving in that position from 1996 to 1999, Johnson was instrumental in convincing the local government in Washington, DC to pay CCA to run a prison in Youngstown, Ohio for DC inmates, according to SEC filings for the company. Meanwhile, two of Johnson's own companies, National Corrections and Rehabilitation (NCRC) and MedCorr, were contracted to provide employment rehabilitation and health services in the same prison he helped establish. The private Ohio prison which Johnson helped establish was, according to Youngstown's then-mayor, "a nightmare." By 1998, there had been two fatal stabbings, 44 assaults, and six escapes at the prison. A Department of Justice report found that under CCA, the prison had "failed to accomplish the basic mission of correctional safety;" and prisoners eventually collected $1.65 million in damages and legal costs for their treatment under CCA. News reports traced the problems at the prison to both CCA's management and D.C. Corrections' practice of sending high-security inmates to the medium-security facility. The problems, Johnson told the Washington Post at the time, weren't "anyone's fault, it was just one of those things." Mr. Johnson nonetheless profited from the deal, receiving $2.6 million in stock options for his work linking CCA with officials in Washington, D.C. Calling his work "instrumental" to their receipt of the contract, CCA said that Mr. Johnson had "exceeded his duties and obligations" to the company and also paid him $382,000 for his "consulting services" in helping to arrange the deal, and $991,000 for NCRC's services in another CCA prison in Texas. Johnson had also helped arrange for Washington, D.C. to sell one of its local prisons to CCA in 1996. Local activists complained that procurement rules had been skipped over to hand the bid to CCA, but the deal ultimately went through, and CCA then managed the facility and used NCRC to provide services to inmates. When the Washington Post asked Johnson if he considered his dual roles as a conflict of interest, he replied, "Not in my mind." Two years later, the Washington Post reported that CCA faced $1.3 million in fines for failing to provide services to inmates, including $536,000 in fines for failing to properly administer medications and another $77,400 for failing to provide vision services. The city's Department of Corrections, despite being $8.8 million in the red, suspended most of the fines, according to Post reports from the time. Johnson has over time expanded his list of companies; NCRC is technically a subsidiary of his firm, the Johnson Companies [www.jcmps.com]. Under that umbrella, Mr. Johnson also houses the Houston-based Satellite Tracking of People, LLC (STOP), which deals in GPS tracking devices for inmates and parolees; the Nashville-based ConnectGov, Inc, which coordinates distance learning; and the National Preparedness Training Center, which trains first responders to disasters.

September 7, 2007 The Vindicator
A corrections officer told police that she was punched by an inmate at the private prison on Hubbard Road. Although the attack is alleged to have occurred Aug. 30, the 41-year-old guard didn't file a report with city police until Wednesday, saying she did so after contacting an attorney. She told police that several individuals at Northeast Ohio Correctional Center had advised her not to report what happened. Candace Rivera, prison spokesman, said incidents that occur at the facility, which houses mostly illegal criminal aliens for the federal Bureau of Prisons, are investigated internally and the findings turned over to the FBI. She said any charge against an inmate would be federal, not through the city prosecutor. Rivera said employees are advised that they can contact city police if they want to file a report but the jurisdiction is not the city's for an assault charge. Rivera said the report of an assault is the first serious incident since the prison reopened in 2005 with federal inmates.

May 25, 2007 The Vindicator
A one-time counselor at the private prison on Hubbard Road slipped cocaine, cigarettes, cell phones and MP3 players to an inmate, the government said. A federal grand jury in Cleveland issued a two-count indictment Thursday charging Michael K. Pearson, 35, of Fairmont Avenue, with bribery and providing contraband in prison. The indictment describes Pearson as a public official who accepted cash from an inmate for the prohibited items. The indictment alleges that Pearson brought contraband into the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center from January through August 2006. Pearson could not be reached. Pearson was hired at NOCC on Dec. 6, 2004, and fired Aug. 25, 2006, for policy violations, said Candace Rivera, prison spokeswoman. Results of the prison's investigation were turned over to the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. attorney's office in Cleveland. Rivera said Pearson's duties as a counselor required him to act as liaison between inmates and prison officials. Counselors take care of inmate's issues, such as grievances, and make sure they complete work assignments, she said. Special OIG Agent Terrence Hake described Pearson in a 12-page affidavit as a correction officer/counselor. Hake said an informant inside the prison revealed to guards that Pearson was bringing in prohibited items, such as marijuana, cigarettes, radios, MP3 players, body building supplements and heroin — for one inmate.

May 24, 2007 The Vindicator
An Austintown man who said he was carjacked by an escaped federal prisoner in a St. Elizabeth Health Center parking lot and held at gunpoint for three hours as the man drove him to the Columbus area, sued the hospital and the prison. Richard Orto Sr., 53, of Innwood Drive, filed the lawsuit this week against St. Elizabeth and the Corrections Corp. of America's Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road. He alleges the April 2 carjacking, spawned by neglect of proper security precautions, caused him "extreme mental agony and emotional distress." The suit, which seeks damages in excess of $25,000 and demands a jury trial, was filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court by Atty. John A. McNally III. Escape from hospital - The prisoner, Billy Jack Fitzmorris, escaped from the hospital, where he was being treated, after using a homemade knife to overpower, disarm and handcuff a NOCC guard, police said. Fitzmorris took another guard and two nurses hostage for about 15 minutes, donned the overpowered guard's uniform, fled the hospital and carjacked Orto with the guard's .38-caliber revolver, authorities said. Orto managed to escape when Fitzmorris stopped at a Columbus area convenience store. Fitzmorris went on to rob two central Ohio banks, wreck the car in Hilliard and hold two more women hostage, before surrendering in Hilliard and being held in Franklin County jail on multiple charges. Tina Creighton, hospital public information officer, said she couldn't comment specifically on the suit, but she said the hospital "strives to provide a safe and secure environment for all our visitors and patients." Orto and a NOCC representative could not be reached to comment.

May 20, 2007 Vindicator
A prison inmate accused of escaping during a hospital visit in Youngstown was charged with robbing two banks and taking hostages before surrendering. Billy Jack Fitzmorris, 34, also was indicted Thursday on three gun violations in the April 2 escapade. Fitzmorris was at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, the private prison on Hubbard Road, Youngstown, awaiting sentencing on federal drug charges when he went to St. Elizabeth Health Center for treatment. Investigators say he overpowered two guards, stole an officer's gun and then drove a carjacked vehicle about 150 miles to the Columbus area, where he robbed the banks of more than $50,000. Police said they chased Fitzmorris to a house in Hilliard, where he kicked in the door and held two women hostage. One escaped out of a second-floor window, and the second was released when Fitzmorris surrendered about two hours later, officers said. Fitzmorris could receive 45 years in prison when he's sentenced May 31 on the earlier cocaine convictions. Authorities said they believe most of the money from the bank robberies has been recovered.

April 3, 2007 AP
A Youngstown man said he tried to maintain calm conversation and keep an eye out for a chance to make a getaway as he was driven across Ohio by an escaped prison inmate accused of carjacking him at gunpoint after overpowering guards at a hospital. "I just kept asking questions to take his mind off of whatever he was going to do to me. I was trying to be his buddy because I thought, 'You wouldn't hurt your buddy,'" Richard Orto said Tuesday. "It was the only thing I could think of at the time, that the calmer he was, the better I was." Orto said he was carjacked as he circled the lot at St. Elizabeth Hospital Medical Center in Youngstown on Monday, looking for a spot to park so he could pick up his mother, who was being discharged. He said the carjacker approached the car and stuck a gun through the partially open driver's side window and told him to slide into the passenger seat. Billy Jack Fitzmorris, 34, an inmate at Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown, was being treated at the hospital when he overpowered prison guards, stealing a gun from one of them, before he forced his way into Orto's car, authorities said. Orto said the two spent the next three hours together. Fitzmorris drove the Chevrolet Impala about 150 miles from Youngstown to the suburbs of Columbus, where he was eventually arrested Monday afternoon after he robbed two banks and holed up for hours in a house with a hostage, authorities said. Throughout the drive, Fitzmorris kept the gun tucked between his leg and the car's center console, Orto said. "As we drove down we talked. He was nervous and I was trying to keep him happy so that I could get my own skin out of there," Orto said. "He told me as long as I was good, I would be released unharmed." Fitzmorris responded to his questions, Orto said, and talked about getting away to a place with no phones where he couldn't be found. Orto told him about his family and his mother, hoping Fitzmorris would start to think of him as a family man. Orto contemplated trying to escape when the car stopped at a few intersections, but decided Fitzmorris and the gun were too close to take a chance. Finally, Fitzmorris pulled into a shopping center in suburban Powell, got out of the car and tucked the gun into the sleeve of his shirt, Orto said. "All this time (in the car) I was thinking about how I was going to get away," Orto said. "I just saw this as the best opportunity." "I took my shot when I felt that he couldn't get it out," he said. Figuring it would take Fitzmorris a few crucial seconds to get to the gun, Orto said, he darted out of the car and ran across the parking lot into a UPS store, where employees called 911. Orto's girlfriend drove down to Columbus to pick him up Monday night after he finished talking to law enforcement officials. While he said he's thankful he made it out unscathed, Orto thinks the operators of the prison owe him an explanation for how Fitzmorris was able to escape. "They've not contacted me, but I think they should," he said.

April 3, 2007 AP
A report found that the private prison that housed an escaped Youngstown inmate had an unusually high rate of inmates attacking other inmates. The report by the state Correctional Institution Inspection Committee says the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center reported 44 inmate-on-inmate attacks in a 12-month period in 2005 and 2006. By contrast, the state reported a total of 305 such assaults for all 32 state facilities in 2005. The July 2006 report also questioned the facility's 55 total inmate grievances for the same 12-month period, calling it an extremely low figure for a prison. The report says a low number of grievances can be a sign that inmates have lost faith in the system for reporting problems.

April 3, 2007 The Enquirer
A police SWAT team and federal marshals captured an escaped convict from Youngstown Monday after surrounding a home-office in Hilliard. No one was hurt, police said. The armed convict took a woman hostage for about two hours before his arrest. A second woman jumped from a second-floor window, according to witnesses. Convict Billy Jack Fitzmorris, 34, robbed two banks, one in Powell and another in Upper Arlington, after escaping from a hospital in Youngstown earlier Monday, police said. Columbus police spotted his car on Interstate 270 and chased him to Hilliard. Fitzmorris took a prison guard's gun and uniform Monday morning after threatening him with a shank at St. Elizabeth's Hospital. The blue and white uniform bore the insignia of Corrections Corp. of America, the private prison operator. At least a dozen officers from Columbus and the Franklin County Sheriff's Department entered the ground floor of the Hilliard home - which doubled as an accountant's office - with guns drawn. Fitzmorris was on the second floor, police said. Hilliard schools were locked down during the incident at Norwich and Main streets near I-270. Fitzmorris had been imprisoned in Youngstown for robbery, burglary and possession of stolen property after a 1997 carjacking. Federal officials said Fitzmorris "had nothing to lose" because he faces a lengthy prison sentence for his multiple crimes.

July 17, 2006 Tribune Chronicle
A 32-year-old Warren man who police say sparked neighborhood manhunts over sexual assaults last year faces potential life sentences for rape. Jury selection is scheduled to get under way today for James L. Cline Jr., who has remained in Trumbull County Jail for nearly a year in lieu of a $500,000 bond. Potential jurors have been called to the courtroom of Judge John M. Stuard for the trial that could run four or five days. The case against Cline involved young girls in Niles and Warren who were sexually attacked or molested on their way to or from school or near local parks. Cline was taken into custody Sept. 14 on a parole violation after the third teen reported she was attacked that morning on her way to East Middle School, Warren police said. After the arrest, Niles police started building a case against Cline since they said crimes there in July occurred in similar fashion. In Warren, Cline was indicted for three attacks that occurred during a seven-day span beginning Sept. 8. A Sept. 14 attack involved a 14-year-old girl, and one day earlier a 13-year-old girl was attacked, also on her way to East Middle School, police say. The first attack occurred to a 15-year-old girl walking home from Warren G. Harding High School near the railroad tracks at Woodland Avenue N.E. She told police the man surprised her from behind, pulled her into a nearby wooded area and assaulted her, police say. In Niles, on July 1, 2005, two 11-year-old girls told police they were in Kennedy Park in the late afternoon when a man approached them, pulled out a gun and ordered them to follow him into the woods near Mosquito Creek between Fairhaven School and the park’s basketball courts. Police said the man sexually assaulted both girls in a similar manner to the teens in Warren. After the assault, the man ordered the girls to start walking. He turned his back on them, the girls said, and they ran away. Authorities say when the Niles assaults occurred, Cline was on a 48-hour furlough from Corrections Corporation of America.

May 22, 2006 Forbes
Youngstown, Ohio has tried to ignite an economic revival-- by building prisons. When the Ohio State Department of Corrections decided to move death row to Youngstown's supermaximum security prison a year ago, then mayor George McKelvey was part of the welcoming committee. The city was already home to Ohio's most dangerous inmates, and there were already three more prisons, two jails and two halfway houses in the surrounding area. "Our community is grateful for its presence here," McKelvey said of the move to add a lethal component, "and the millions of dollars it contributes to our local economy." If only. In fact, the metro region has been in decline since the shutdown of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube's steelworks in 1977, the first of 50,000 industrial layoffs over the next decade. Turning to prison building over the last ten years hasn't created the hoped-for economic salvation. Average annual real income and job growth over the last five years have been pitiful--negative 2.4% and negative 0.9%, respectively. Seeing little but bleak opportunity, folks have been leaving the area at a rate of 0.4% a year. About the only bright stat you can point to: The Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area has a low crime rate--3,508 offenses per 100,000 people. Perhaps that's because most of the ruffians are already in jail. Placing 198 out of 200 major metro regions, Youngstown wins our booby prize this year. Who thought that backing the big house would lead to bigger times? It was Patrick Ungaro, Mayor McKelvey's predecessor, who, between 1993 and 1995, offered state officials and private-prison owner Corrections Corporation of America free land and, in CCA's case, a seven-year 50% tax abatement and new water and sewer lines. In return Youngstown builders and suppliers got $127 million worth of contracts, the city received an annual $895,000 boost in tax revenue and upward of 900 people obtained jobs as guards, janitors, cooks and health care workers. The strategy seemed to work for a while. The two prisons, along with the county jails, the halfway houses, Warren state prison (which opened in 1992) and nearby Elkton's federal prison (1997) created quite an industry. Between 1992 and 1997 Youngstown's gross metro product rose at an average 3.4% a year net of inflation. The lift was not to last. Regional unemployment was a recent 6.7%, down from 7.2% a year ago, thanks to upswings at metal manufacturers Exal Corp. and V&M Tube and at Kmart and Toys "R" Us, which have warehouses there. The problem is that Youngstown hasn't been able to attract much in the way of new ventures or growing corporations to the area. Not for want of trying. In 2003 the Chamber of Commerce attempted to lure Boeing, to build its 787. The aerospace giant opted out, officially because a coastal city made better sense for receiving large shipments of parts. It appears, though, that the lack of a highly skilled labor force played a role. Only one in six adults in the region has a college degree. Besides, says John Russo, a Youngstown State University business professor, "If I were a businessman, I'd look around and ask, 'Do I really want be in an area that's basically a penal colony?'" Finding neighborhood boosters is nigh impossible. "It's a bleak, sick, sad and pathetic reality," says talk radio host Louie Free. "Prisons just fuel the cycle." Youngstown's new mayor, Jay Williams, is hoping to break the cycle. The city has given $200,000 or so in grants to a downtown auditorium and will spend $100,000 this year to improve lighting and landscaping. Williams is also pledging up to $1 million in taxpayer money to build space for young high-tech companies that graduate from an existing, nonprofit incubator. Who knows? Maybe some genius there will invent a robotic chain gang foreman.

May 2, 2005 Vindicator
A Willoughby Hills accountant, who pleaded guilty about a week ago to 29 federal criminal counts, committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor in the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center private prison on Hubbard Road.
An NOCC corrections officer found Paul A. Rendina, 53, in his cell breathing at 5:26 a.m. Sunday. Rendina had cut himself with a razor on the left and right sides of his neck and on both arms, a Youngstown police report said. The Federal Bureau of Prisons awarded a contract in December to Corrections Corporation of America of Nashville, parent company of NOCC. The contract calls for the federal government to house federal prisoners classified as low security at the Hubbard Road facility.

November 5, 2004 Corrections Professional
Ruling: An inmate's claim that he should have been paid the same wages as workers in the private sector was rejected by an appeals court. Summary: Robert R. Ziegler said while he was an Oklahoma state prisoner managed by Corrections Corporation of America, he performed work for a company called Hy-Tec. He filed a lawsuit against CCA and two company employees stating that his due process rights had been violated when Hy-Tec failed to pay him the prevailing wage for his work. Ziegler's complaint also asserted that CCA officials violated a state statute by using his net rather than gross wages in determining how much money to deposit in his inmate savings account. Finally, Ziegler said his due process right was violated, as well as his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The District Court dismissed Ziegler's claims. On appeal, Ziegler challenged the dismissal of his wage-related claims. In particular, he argued that he had a constitutionally protected liberty interest in being paid the prevailing wage. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed Ziegler's property and liberty interest claims arising from prison conditions and determined that Ziegler's complaints did not present an atypical deprivation. The appeals court affirmed the decision of the lower court.

September 9, 2004 The Tennessean
Recent actions in two states could delay or kill Corrections Corporation of America's efforts to win contracts to house new prison inmates there. In Georgia, the state's procurement office because of ''budget'' reasons has canceled a request for proposals on a contract to house 1,000 inmates, said Pat Swindle, an analyst at investment banking firm Avondale Partners of Nashville. CCA was one of the bidders on the contract and, if successful, had planned to house the inmates at its Stewart County Correctional Facility in Lumpkin, Ga. Swindle, in a stock research report issued yesterday, also cited actions in Connecticut that could affect CCA's bid to win a contract to house up to 2,500 inmates. M. Jodi Rell, that state's new governor, just announced plans to bring home by year-end the 400 Connecticut inmates housed in a Virginia prison. She also has expressed a lack of interest in sending Connecticut inmates to privatized prisons outside the state, Swindle said.

May 1, 2004 Corrections Caselaw Quarterly
Warren v. District of Columbia, 353 F.3d 36 (D.C.Cir. 2004). A prisoner brought a pro se [section] 1983 action against the District of Columbia, alleging that he suffered constitutional violations while incarcerated in a private prison operated under contract with the District. The district court dismissed the claim and the prisoner appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded, finding that the prisoner's allegations that the District had, or should have had, knowledge of alleged constitutional violations were sufficient to state a claim against the District under [section] 1983. The prisoner alleged that private prison officials used common needles to draw blood from prisoners. (Corrections Corporation of America, Youngstown, Ohio)

March 26, 2004
Mahoning County commissioners were slapped with a lawsuit and unkind words Thursday from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 141.  "They don't do their jobs," FOP president Glenn Kountz said of commissioners. "They get paid $65,000 a year to do a part-time job and they don't even do that."  The FOP filed a lawsuit in common pleas court against Commissioners Ed Reese, Vicki Allen Sherlock and David Ludt, and against Sheriff Randall Wellington.  It says that a plan to bring federal inmates to Mahoning County and house them in a private prison on the city's East Side violates terms of the FOP's contract. Local 141 represents deputy sheriffs.  Commissioners and other county officials have worked for months to strike a deal with federal authorities for housing the federal inmates at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road. The first busload of inmates was due to arrive Thursday.  About 70 federal inmates are regularly kept in the county jail while they await appearances in federal court. The federal government reimburses the county $67 per day for each inmate kept there.  What's behind suit  Under the new plan, more federal inmates would be brought to the county and kept at NOCC, for which the county also would be reimbursed by the federal government. Those inmates would be guarded and monitored by NOCC employees, not the sheriff's department.  The county would then pay Corrections Corporation of America the money it receives from the federal government, minus a small administrative fee. CCA is the parent company that operates the private prison.  The FOP says the problem is that the plan violates a clause in its contract that prohibits contracting out work that is normally done by union employees.  The lawsuit sought a restraining order to keep the county from accepting inmates at NOCC until the dispute is settled. However, about 150 inmates already were on the way here from Maryland when the suit was filed.  Visiting Judge Charles J. Bannon of common pleas court said NOCC could accept those inmates but barred the prison from taking any more until the dispute is resolved. A hearing on the matter is scheduled Monday morning.  Kountz said the FOP has tried to negotiate an agreement whereby the sheriff would be able to house the federal prisoners without violating the contract, but commissioners have yet to ratify terms of the agreement. No details were given.  The wrinkle is that commissioners have not sent a representative to the bargaining table so they can negotiate a final contract. The FOP negotiates with Wellington, but Kountz said commissioners should be there as well since they are the appropriating authority.  Response  Commissioner David Ludt said commissioners don't need to be included in negotiations and haven't been presented with an agreement to consider.  "They need to just get their proposal together and send it over to us," Ludt said. "We'll either approve it or reject it."  Ludt said he and Auditor George Tablack have met with the union several times to go over the issue of contracting out services.  "I was totally blindsided by this lawsuit," Ludt said. "I can't believe they did this just when we are getting ready to bring some prisoners in."  (Vindicator)

February 3, 2004
At least 90 employees will be on hand next month to reopen the private prison on the city's East Side.  Roseanne Rubosky, a spokeswoman for the North East Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road, said Monday that the prison plans to reopen March 10.  She added that she has no idea how many inmates are expected, but a staff of more than 90 employees will be on hand to greet them.  Of those employees, 68 percent are former employees of the prison, which closed in 2001 when its owner, Corrections Corporation of America, closed the facility because of financial problems.  ''We hired a large number of former employees,'' Rubosky said.  Rubosky said the employees have been undergoing training since the first of the year, and a class is set to graduate Friday.  The number of employees at the prison will increase as it receives more inmates, Rubosky said.  The road to reopen the prison was paved in November when Mahoning County commissioners ratified an agreement with CCA that limits the number of federal inmates in the county jail according to space needs. Those inmates would have to be sent to the private prison if there is no room at the county jail.  (Tribune-Chronicle)

January 5, 2004
A D.C. prisoner who sued the District claiming that officials ignored life-threatening conditions in a now-closed prison will be allowed a new chance to make his case, a federal appeals panel ruled yesterday. The three-judge panel overturned a federal trial judge's decision to dismiss the lawsuit of Morris J. Warren, a prisoner who said the city violated his rights by allowing him to be mistreated and harmed when he was confined at an Ohio prison run by a city contractor from August 1997 to September 1999.  Acting as his own attorney and writing in longhand, Warren filed his legal claim in 2001 alleging that the for-profit prison denied him water, food and prescribed medication. He also said prison staff members drew his blood with used needles and left him naked on his cell floor for hours at a stretch, leading him to contract pneumonia and jaundice and suffer a stroke.  Warren said that he and others alerted the District to problems at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown but that no action was taken.  In papers he submitted to the court, he said that he wrote letters to District Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) and Corrections Department Director Odie Washington and that news media and court monitors also warned of mistreatment at the penitentiary run by Corrections Corp. of America.  U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. dismissed Warren's lawsuit in 2002, saying the prisoner had failed to establish his claim or present facts that the District knew about the alleged conditions at the Youngstown facility.  But the three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit wrote in yesterday's opinion that Kennedy was holding the prisoner to a higher standard than the law allowed. The judges said the lower court must give Warren the benefit of the doubt that he might be able to prove both that he was mistreated and that the District was aware of it.  "If Warren can prove the violations, and prove as well that the District had actual or constructive knowledge of them, he will have established the District's liability," Circuit Judge A. Raymond Randolph wrote for the panel.  Peter J. Lavallee, spokesman for the D.C. Office of Corporation Counsel, which had called for the suit's dismissal, said his office was reviewing the opinion but could not comment on its substance.  The Youngstown facility had been plagued by problems from the time it opened in 1997 and started accepting prisoners from the District's  Lorton complex. Two inmates were stabbed to death, 40 assaults were reported and six prisoners escaped in 1998. Inmates also won $1.65 million in a class-action lawsuit that accused guards of excessive force.  The facility closed in August 2001. Warren is now incarcerated at the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pa.  Warren was represented in Nov. 13 appellate arguments by Susan S. Friedman, a third-year student at the Georgetown University Law Center, and supervising professor Steven H. Goldblatt.  The panel, which also included Judge John G. Roberts and Senior Judge Stephen F. Williams, wrote that although it was reversing Kennedy, it was leaving many issues open for the trial court to decide. They included, the judges  said, whether the allegations about the mistreatment and city knowledge were true and whether Warren's claims might be covered by the previous settlement.  (The Washington Post)

November 22, 2003
Former workers at the private prison on the East Side should be the first to be rehired when it reopens, several speakers told Mahoning commissioners on Friday.  Commissioners approved an agreement with the Corrections Corporation of America to house federal inmates at the prison on Hubbard Road, which has been closed since 2001.  CCA will house federal inmates when the U.S. Marshal's Service cannot send any more inmates to the Mahoning County Jail, county Administrator Gary Kubic said.  (Tribune Chronicles)

November 21, 2003
The private prison on the city's East Side may be on the verge of reopening.  Mahoning County commissioners will hold an emergency meeting today to vote on an agreement with Corrections Corporation of America to reopen the prison on Hubbard Road to house federal inmates who are presently housed in the county jail.  Commissioners were set to vote on the agreement Thursday, but they tabled the issue because of last- minute negotiations.  ''I am confident we will be able to come to a tentative agreement,'' county Administrator Gary Kubic said. ''I think it will be beneficial to the county and the city of Youngstown. I think it can be a long-term relationship, and that's clearly what we've been working on.''  If an agreement is reached, Kubic said CCA would hire 300 people to staff the prison. About 500 people lost their jobs when the prison closed in July 2001.  Kubic said CCA is negotiating the possible reopening with Mahoning County officials because the county has an agreement with the federal government to house those inmates. A provision exists that requires any previous agreement between CCA and the city be honored.  If there is an overflow of federal inmates that cannot be housed at the county jail, they will be housed in the private prison, Kubic said.  Steve Owen, a spokesman for CCA, said the agreement does not necessarily mean the prison will reopen immediately. He said that will depend on when the U.S. Marshal's Service will need the space to house their inmates.  ''If the Marshal's service wants to use it, we'll be in place,'' Owen said.  (Tribune Chronicles)

October 16, 2003
U.S. Marshal Peter J. Elliott says there are "no guarantees," but he's taking a look at housing federal detainees at the mothballed private prison on the East Side.  "Reopening the prison would be a huge tax boost for the city of Youngstown and create a number of jobs," Elliott said. "I know it would be great for the economy, and that's one of my considerations."  The U.S. marshal, based in Cleveland, said he'd like a federal detention center there but is considering other options in an effort to make the best decision for his marshal district.  "I'll say this, I'm taking a very good hard look at [Youngstown]. I will have a number of discussions and meetings," Elliott said. "I hope to have a decision after the first of the year."  Federal detainees are now housed in county jails in the vicinity of federal courthouses where they have matters pending. Occasionally, judges will remand defendants to custody the day of sentencing and they stay in county jails until the federal Bureau of Prisons designates a prison.  Former U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., for example, spent a few days at the Summit County jail before being sent to a federal prison in central Pennsylvania in August 2002.  Operated four years Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, the private prison on Hubbard Road, has a bed capacity of 2,106. It opened in mid-1997 and operated until July 2001, after losing its contract to incarcerate roughly 1,500 federal inmates, mostly from the Washington, D.C., area.  The prison had an annual payroll of $11 million for a staff of more than 400 and paid the city $250,000 in income tax its last year.  Elliott said that he has roughly 300 federal inmates housed in eight county jails. For each inmate, the government pays the jails a daily rate of about $70.  "It's the federal marshal's call. We'll cooperate in any way we can," said Mahoning County Sheriff Randall A. Wellington. "It would be good for the economy of the whole area."  Wellington said overpopulation with federal detainees is a problem nationwide. This past week, the Mahoning County jail had 75 federal inmates.  NOCC could open with 300 inmates but would need more federal detainees from other districts — not just Northeast Ohio — to show a profit and sustain operations, said sheriff's Maj. Michael Budd. He said the idea has been discussed with and received favorably by county and NOCC officials.  How it would work Budd said the concept of housing hundreds of federal detainees locally for the U.S. Marshals Service would work like this:  The Mahoning County jail would take the first 100 inmates and serve as the conduit for the overflow who would go to the private prison on "piggyback contracts" that would include food service from a local vendor. Mahoning County would get a processing fee from NOCC, say $1 per day for each inmate.  NOCC would collect the going rate, $70 per day, for each federal detainee.  Budd described the proposed arrangement as a marriage between the public and private sectors. He said the county would want a long-term contract to ensure that it remains the conduit for federal detainees placed at NOCC.  Steve Owen, spokesman for Community Corrections Corp. of America, NOCC's parent company in Nashville, Tenn., said the company has been actively marketing the Youngstown facility to state and federal officials. He said that there's nothing to report at this time and that he looks forward to the day he can report a contract has been signed.  (The Vindicator)

May 12, 2003
Nothing is imminent, but a settled lawsuit makes reopening the closed private prison easier, the company says.  There are governments interested in a contract with Corrections Corporation of America to use the local prison, said Steve Owen, a company spokesman.  Five years ago, the school board filed the lawsuit against CCA and the city over tax breaks granted to the company. Millions of dollars were at stake.  CCA has talked with the federal government for more than a year about the prison, but there has been no progress toward a sale, Owen said. Local officials have wondered about acquiring and operating the prison, too. CCA hasn't even talked with them, Owen said.  (The Vindicator)

May 5, 2003
A new tax deal and "best efforts" at reopening the closed private prison are the main features in a major legal settlement.  City Law Director John McNally IV said he is confident the prison's owner, Corrections Corporation of America, eventually will reopen the prison with the lawsuit resolved.  City council approved the settlement at a special meeting Thursday.  The deal, after a year of talks, avoids a trial scheduled for last summer but delayed while the deal developed.  At issue was the 5-year-old suit the school board filed against CCA and the city over tax breaks granted to the company.  Millions of dollars were at stake.  The 12-yyear deal gives CCA a 100-percent abatement on property taxes.  Instead, CCA will make payments in lieu of taxes.  Previously, the city gave CCA a deal that said the company would pay only a small part of its property taxes in the first five years.  The bulk of that would go to the city schools.  In the second five years, CCA would continue paying its school tax bill and a large lump sum directly to the city alone.  The school district would get none of that money.  The deal also called for the schools and city to share in income tax revenue.  The school district protested the deal, and the Ohio Tax Commission never approved it.  That left CCA to pay its full tax bill since opening the prison.  Payments continued despite the prison being emptied of prisoners two years ago when a federal contract expired.  CCA has paid about $5 million in property tax to date.  The deal also says CCA can transfer the property to a new owner that will open the prison, with the city's permission.  The federal government and some local officials have talked about buying and operating the prison.  (The Vindicator)

May 4, 2003
A tax abatement war waged for nearly five years between the city and the Youngstown Board of Education is coming to a close.  Board president Lock P. Beachum Sr. said a tentative agreement has been reached between the school district, the city and Corrections Corporation of America.  The suit revolves around a full, three-year tax abatement the city granted CCA in 1996 as an incentive to build the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center prison off Hubbard Road.  The exemption was later extended to 10 years.  School officials had estimated that the break would cost them $9 million in lost property taxes.  (The Vindicator)

December 16, 2002
Trumbull and Mahoning County officials agree that creating a regional jail would be beneficial to the Valley, but no one is quite sure how to make it happen.  Officials from both counties met Thursday during the Trumbull County Community Corrections Board regular meeting and discussed the idea of transforming the empty private prison in Youngstown into a multicounty jail.  "It's a great idea, but what do we need to do to get it?" asked Capt. Tim Bowers of the city police department.  The 2,106-bed medium-security prison has been empty since July 2001 when the federal government transferred the last of its 1,700 inmates from the private facility, built in the 1990s by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America.  (The Vindicator)  

July 18, 2002
A long and ugly period in relations between city hall and the board of education could soon reach an end.   Four years ago, the school board sued the city and Corrections Corporation of America over tax breaks the city granted the private prison company.  "The city and the school board are starting to realize they have more common interests and want to resolve issues," said Martin Hughes, a Columbus lawyer retained by the school board to battle the city and CCA.   From the board of education's point of view, the tax breaks were a city hall money-grab at the expense of schoolchildren.   "It was a sweetheart deal that leaves the city rolling in money; our money," said Carolyn Funk, school district treasurer.   The dispute dates to 1994, when a new state law required that cities get the approval of school boards before handing out tax breaks of more than 75 percent.   But the city wanted to continue giving out 100 percent tax incentives to attract new businesses to town.   A year later, the city and CCA agreed to a 10-year tax break package as an incentive for CCA to build a private prison in Youngstown.   The city offered CCA something called a "tax increment financing" deal, or TIF.   The city says the TIF called for two things:   * CCA would pay only 25 percent of its property taxes in the first five years, with the bulk going to the city schools.   * In the second five years, CCA would continue paying 25 percent of its school tax bill but also would pay a lump sum equal to the remaining 75 percent of the taxes directly to the city alone. The school district would get none of that money.   Without the tax package, the school board would get about $1.1 million a year in taxes from CCA. With the package, the district would see about $300,000 a year.   City officials approved the tax agreement in 1996, and CCA opened the prison in 1997.   The Ohio Tax Commission, however, has never approved the deal, so CCA has paid its full $1.37 million tax bill since it opened. Those payments have continued, despite the prison's being emptied of prisoners almost two years ago.   Nevertheless, the school board cried foul.   "If this isn't a case of the city trying to put the skewer up the you-know-what, I don't know what is," Funk said.   The school board sued in September 1998, claiming three major violations:   * The school system was not properly notified.   * The tax break agreement was retroactive. Hughes said state law requires that tax abatements can be used only to create or retain jobs. The CCA prison already was under construction when the city approved the tax break package, he said.   * The votes of then-councilman Charles Ellis on the CCA tax deals were an unlawful interest in a public contract, the lawsuit claims. The 2nd Ward councilman later got a job at the private prison.   "He voted to approve the abatement for the sole permissible purpose of creating jobs and then took one of those jobs," Hughes said.   If the city loses, CCA wants the city to pay anything the company may owe to the school district.   The city could have to pay roughly $3 million that the school board is seeking in damages and an additional $5 million or more in property taxes already paid that CCA might get back.   "That would bankrupt the city of Youngstown," McKelvey said. If the school district loses the dispute, CCA has asked that the school district refund 75 percent of the taxes it has paid over the past four years, Hughes said. That would amount to about $4 million.  (The Vindicator)

February 13, 2002
A Florida official faces ethics charges in that state, in part, on allegations that he improperly sold a public document to the city of Youngstown for $7,500.   City contracts and invoices show the official also sold Youngstown a draft of the document -- a private prison monitoring manual -- for another $7,500.   That puts the questionable total at $15,000 paid to consultant C. Mark Hodges. He also is executive director of Florida's Correctional Privatization Commission.   Hodges and city Law Director Robert Bush Jr., however, disagree with Florida ethics investigators. Hodges did more work for the money spent than just provide the documents, he and Bush said.  The document, unedited, would have cost $10.20 -- 15 cents a page in copying fees.  Besides the manual, the Florida Commission on Ethics recently found probable cause that Hodges violated other laws the past six years.  A few of the ethics charges stem from Hodges' work in Youngstown in 1998.  Bush said the city expected a unique manual for Youngstown. He didn't know the manual mostly was copied from Florida's document, he said. Hodges never indicated that the manual was based on a public record, Bush said.  (The Vindicator)

August 5, 2001
More than 500 workers lost their jobs last month when Corrections Corporation of America mothballed the 2,016-bed Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, the state's only privately owned and operated prison.  Warden Brian Gardner and a skeleton crew stayed on after the last of the 1,700 inmates housed under contract with the Washington, D.C., Department of Corrections were bused out of Youngstown, about 145 miles northeast of Columbus.  Raymond Wells, a guard since the prison opened in 1997, decided not to transfer to one of the company's 64 other prisons. Between 25 and 30 co-workers accepted.  Now, at age 54, Wells is looking for work.  "My daughter is a junior in high school; my wife has a beauty shop business,'' he said. "There's no way I could pull up roots now.''  Wells considers himself lucky. Not only does his wife have an income but he has his police pension from nearby Hubbard.  But the company's business plan had no contingency for what seemed unthinkable when the company opened the Mahoning County prison: a day when it would run out of inmates.  Critics contend the prison and its backers have only themselves to blame for the problems at the prison that likely played into the government's decision to cancel the company's contract with the prison system.  In less than four years, two inmates were murdered, six escaped and the company agreed to pay $1.65 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by the prisoners.  "They just didn't take steps necessary to safeguard the community,'' said Alan Kretzer, an attorney and critic of the city's involvement with the company.  "The problem was that everyone was convinced the private prison was the greatest thing since sliced bread,'' he said.  Bob Fitzer, president of the Greater Youngstown Citizens' League, a group dedicated to transforming the city's reputation for political corruption, thinks the company preys on distressed communities.  "They don't approach Columbus, because Columbus doesn't need this type of job,'' Fitzer said. "Here, you accept scraps because it seems like scraps are all you're going to get.''  Ralph Naples, meanwhile, shakes his head when asked about the empty prison just up the road from the Golden Dawn.  "I don't understand it,'' he said while breaking a $100 bill for a regular. "It's a brand-spanking new building.''  Then he paused to add: "Isn't it a shame to be fighting for that kind of business?''  (The Columbus Dispatch)

July 9, 2001
Ohio's only privately owned, privately operated prison, originally scheduled to close in August, will close several weeks earlier as the final inmates are moved elsewhere. Within two weeks, the remaining 101 inmates at the 2,016-bed Northeast Ohio Correctional Center will be moved out and prison operates will be suspended. (AP)

May 11, 2001
The remaining 350 D.C. inmates at a private prison in Youngstown, Ohio, will be moved to federal prisons across the country in coming months as the troubled penitentiary prepares to close in August, officials said yesterday.  The prison, run by Corrections Corp. of America, has been beset with problems since it opened in 1997, accepting D.C. inmates from the Lorton Correctional Complex in Fairfax County.  Two inmates were stabbed to death; 40 assaults were reported; six prisoners escaped in a 1998 breakout; and inmates won $1.65 million in a class-action lawsuit that accused guards of excessive force.  Depending on their classification and prison space, the D.C. inmates will be moved to any of the 98 federal prisons across the country, Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Traci Billingsley said.  (The Washington Post) 

May 11, 2001
Once famously plagued by violence and escapes, an Ohio prison owned by America's largest operator of for-profit lockups now faces a new problem: it may soon have no prisoners.  Corrections Corporations of America's 2,016-bed facility in Youngstown, Ohio currently houses overflow inmates from Washington, D.C.  But the federal Bureau of Prisons is taking charge of the capital's prison system and has announced plans to move all the Youngstown inmates to other facilities by August.  (Mother Jones)

April 25, 2001
Mayor George McKelvey refuses to believe that Corrections Corp. of America will close its private prison Aug. 18, with the loss of 500 jobs and a quarter-million dollars in annual income taxes.  "I don't think they will close," McKelvey said yesterday.  "I'm sure they will find new clients."  "We can't allow this facility to close," he added.  "We just had Tartan Textile close a couple months ago, meaning the loss of 300 to 500 jobs.  Steel companies in the area that employ Youngstown people have been closing all over.  We'll do anything and everything we can to keep the prison here."  (The Plain Dealer)

April 25, 2001
Gov. Bob Taft asked the federal government on Wednesday to buy a Youngtown private prison that is slated to close in August.  Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, announced this week that it was closing the Youngstown facility Aug. 18, affecting 500 jobs.  The prison, which opened in May 1997, houses inmates from the District of Columbia.  (AP)

April 24, 2001
CCA officials have announced that the company's current contract with the District of Columbia to house its inmates at Northeast Ohio expires September 8 and will not be renewed due to a new law that mandates the Federal Bureau of Prisons to assume jurisdiction of all D.C. offenders by the end of this year.  The facility has been securely housing inmates for the District of Columbia since its opening in 1997.  (Nashville, Tenn. -- Business Wire)

April 24, 2001
Corrections Corporation of America said Tuesday it will close its Youngstown, Ohio, prison on Aug. 18 but wants to reopen it if the company wins a new contract to house inmates.  The shutdown will mean the loss of more than 500 jobs.  Warden Brian Gardner said the company would consider housing women inmates at the prison to reopen it.  The Nashville-based prison operator said the decision was made after the District of Columbia decided not to renew its contract with CCA.  The prison, which at one time housed up to 1,500 inmates from Washington, has faced various problems over past years--including the 1997 stabbing deaths of two inmates by other prisoners, an inmate class-action lawsuit alleging excessive use of force by guards and a 1998 jail break.  Youngstown Mayor George McKelvey said the closing would be devastating economically to the city.  The prison has an annual payroll of about $11 million and paid the city $250,000 in income tax last year.  "They are one of the largest employers in the city," McKelvey had said.  (AP)

April 23, 2001
Corrections Corporation of America said yesterday it will close its troubled Youngstown, Ohio, prison effective Aug. 18 until it can secure a new contract to house inmates at the facility.  The decision was made after the District of Columbia decided not to renew its contract with CCA, which has been housing prisoners from the nation's capital in the Ohio facility.  The Nashville-based prison operator cited a new law that requires the Federal Bureau of Prisons to take jurisdiction of all D.C. inmates by the end of the year as the reason the contract won't be extended when it expires on Sept. 8.  Problems at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, including the 1997 stabbing deaths of two inmates by other prisoners, an inmate class-action lawsuit alleging excessive use of force by guards and a 1998 jail break, created a public relations nightmare for CCA specifically and the private corrections industry generally.  CCA now houses 350 D.C. inmates at the 2,016-bed Ohio prison, company spokesperson Steve Owen said, down from 1,500 at one time.  James Macdonald, an analyst at First Analysis in Chicago, said a permanent closure of the Ohio prison is more likely.  He said currently there is a weak demand for new beds among states.  The Youngstown prisoners will moved to other private non-CCA facilities.  CCA recently notified about 330 employees at the Youngstown prison that they would be laid off a later date.  This week, the remaining 184 workers will receive similar notices, the company said.  (AP)  

April 23, 2001
A private prison that houses out-of-state prisoners could close as soon as August if it doesn't get more inmates, city officials said Monday.  Corrections Corporation of America announced last month that it was cutting 200 jobs--or about 45 percent--at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, citing a declining inmate population.  The 2,106-bed prison had only 350 inmates left as of last week and at one time housed up to 1,500 inmates from Washington, D.C.  Nashville-based CCA told the city in a letter Friday that the prison could close Aug. 18, said city law director Robert Bush.  "The city will do everything it can to save that facility," Youngtown Mayor George McKelvey told The Vindicator on Monday.  Even if the prison has to close, the company will work on getting another contract and reopen the facility, NOCC warden Brian Gardener said.  CCA also may try to bring in female prisoners.  McKelvey said the prison closing would be devastating economically to the city.  The prison has an annual payroll of about $11 million and paid the city $250,000 in income tax last year.  (Ohio News and AP)

March 29, 2001
CCA has notified about 200 employees at its Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown that they would be laid off.  The 45% reduction in the prison's 499-employee work force aims to adjust to reflect the number of inmates there, CCA spokeswoman Louise Green said yesterday.  The prison now houses 574 inmates.  At one time, it had housed up to 1,500 inmates.  The families of 500 workers in Youngstown depend on the private prison. They roughly 15-million dollars in wage tax into the city treasury. But the prison's parent company, Correction Corp. of America, is trying to reduce a 1.1 billion dollar debt ;pad. Monday it sold one of its North Carolina Facility. Even old critics like senator Bob Hagen are concerned about that, "I understand that we have to be responsible about protecting the jobs there, and protecting the facility. But they've lied to us so many times, we can't believe what they're saying." What CCA's executives are saying is that it's getting very costly to run their prison in Youngstown. (Tennessean)

March 28, 2001
Robert Bush Jr. knew the private prison would be cutting a significant number of jobs. But planned layoffs of about 200 workers, nearly 45 percent of the staff, startled even the city law director. The Nashville, Tenn.--based company wants to reduce the work force because there are only 574 inmates in the 2,106-bed prison. The prison housed up to 1,500 inmates from Washington, D.C., at one time. A federally approved contract between CCA and the city said the prison must be fully staffed regardless of the number of inmates. As of December the prison had an $11 million annual payroll and paid the city $250,000 a year in income tax. Reduced staffing will cut the city's income tax collections by more than $112,000 a year. (OCSEA)

December 8, 2000
CCA lost $253.7 million in its third quarter, which ended Sept. 30. An annual report released report released earlier this year said the company lost $62 million on revenues of $285 million in 1999. Mayor George McKelvey said the company told him this week that it is losing millions of dollars a year in Youngstown because the prison is housing less than 1,000 prisoners, well below its capacity of 2,000. "It's a bombshell," McKelvey told the newspaper. "We're in a crisis situation." (The Associated Press State and Local Wire, Dec. 8, 2000)

Probably the most notorious for-profit private prison in the US.  CCA settled a $ 1.65 million class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of inmates.  CCA brought in District of Columbia inmates without the knowledge of local authorities.  They only found out after six escaped.

March 15, 1999
About 1,900 inmates in Ohio's only private prison would split $1.65 million under a settlement of their lawsuit that claimed guards used excessive force and that the facility improperly housed maximum-security prisoners. Three inmates sued CCA in August 1997, claiming the 3-month-old Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, which was built to handle unsafe and that medical treatment was inadequate. After the lawsuit became a class action, two inmates were killed by fellow prisoners. A Justice Department report said staff members had used " unnecessarily harsh and humiliating procedures" during inmate searches after the killings. Last summer the prison made several security and personnel changes after six inmates escaped. Their breakout prompted a series of legislative hearings and a proposal to ban maximum-security inmates at private prisons in Ohio.

June 27, 1998
Six inmates, including four murderers, cut through a gate and escaped from Ohio's only privately run prison Saturday afternoon. The prison, operated by Correction Corp. of America, has been plagued with problems since it opened in May 1997. Two inmates have been killed, and there have been at least 13 stabbings.

North Coast Correctional Facility
Grafton, Ohio
Management & Training Corporation (formerly run by CiviGenics, First Correctional Medical)

July 12, 2012 Columbus Dispatch
Arguing that workers lost their jobs and had their lives uprooted, the state’s largest employee union has gone to court over private prisons. The Ohio Civil Services Employees Association filed suit Monday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. The suit represents 270 union members who were “laid off or otherwise negatively affected” when the state turned over the North Central Correctional Institution in Marion to a private operator and sold the Lake Erie Correctional Facility in Conneaut in Ashtabula County. The union listed 11 individual employees who it said lost jobs, were “uprooted from their communities or were wrongfully excluded from employment” when the prisons became private. The union wants the private-prison contracts overturned and the employees to get their old jobs back. “While we believe this privatization is unlawful, our bigger concern is the impact that privatization has on our members’ lives,” said union President Christopher Mabe. “Not only is privatization unsafe and bad public business, it’s devastating for the lives of these employees and their communities. These public servants did nothing wrong and now are being punished by bad public policies.” Last year, the state agreed to sell the Lake Erie prison to the Corrections Corporation of America, of Nashville, Tenn., for $72.7 million. The state pays the company to house prisoners there. At the same time, the Marion prison was shifted to Management and Training Corp., of Centerville, Utah, and the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Lorain County, previously operated by Management and Training Corp., was taken over by the state. Spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction won’t comment because the litigation is pending.

September 1, 2011 All Headline News
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections announced Thursday the winning bidders in the $200 million privatization of prisons in Ashtabula and Marion counties. Two out of three bidders won the contracts: Corrections Corp. of America (CCA) of Nashville, TN, and Management and Training Corp. (MTC) of Centerville, UT. The Geo Group Inc. of Boca Raton, FL, was the losing bidder. The state of Ohio pushed through with the announcement after a Columbus judge denied a restraining order by opposition groups to halt the process. Five adult prisons out of the state's 32 corrections facilities were up for grabs. CCA will take over the operations of Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Ashtabula County, while MTC will manage Marion County's North Central Correctional Institution and the vacant Marion Juvenile Correctional Facility. The MTC-operated North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Lorain County will be turned over to Ohio and merged with the state-operated Grafton Correctional Institution.

September 10, 2009 Chronicle-Telegram
EMH Regional Medical Center is locked in a dispute with the private contractor that runs the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton over unpaid medical bills for inmates treated at the hospital. A lawsuit filed earlier this year accuses Utah-based Management and Training Corp. of failing to pay $628,193.81 in medical bills it racked up for inmates between September 2006 and February 2009. But Tim Reid, the company’s attorney, said Management and Training doesn’t actually owe the hospital the money. Instead, he said, a former subcontractor is responsible for the outstanding bills. Management and Training has been paying its bills since severing ties with Arizona-based First Correctional Medical in May 2008, Reid said. That company, he said, ran into financial problems and fell behind in paying the medical bills under a contract with the hospital. But Management and Training didn’t realize how much money was owed until after the lawsuit was filed in May of this year, Reid said. “We realized there was a problem, but we didn’t know the extent of the problem,” he said. First Correctional and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction are not named as a party in the lawsuit, according to court records. Julie Walburn, an ODRC spokeswoman, said the prison system paid Management and Training about $15.4 million in fiscal year 2009 to operate the North Coast prison, which mostly houses prisoners convicted of drunken driving and other substance abuse crimes. “They’re responsible for providing medical care to inmates,” she said.

September 11, 2003
Dr. Shura Hegde didn't have to look far for work after he lost his $96-an-hour job at the Lorain Correctional Institution for "questionable clinical, behavioral and billing practices."  The psychiatrist simply, and literally, crossed the road and landed a job at the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton, a state prison operated by a private contractor.  State prison authorities were unaware Hegde was hired at North Coast, a 552-bed minimum-security prison for drug and alcohol offenders, after officials at Lorain refused to renew his contract.  He is one of at least four medical professionals ousted from one prison for substandard performance only to later gain a job at another.  An investigation by The Dispatch and WBNS-10TV of problematic prison health care for inmates led Gov. Bob Taft to seek a comprehensive study of prison medicine, including improved screening of medical professionals.  Amid numerous complaints in 2001, a deputy warden at Lorain found Hegde performed "full mental-health evaluations" in 10 minutes and gave the same assessment scores to 30 of 31 inmates, "some of whom were psychotic."  Hegde also was accused of inappropriate behavior -- including playing pingpong on duty -- and of billing the state for half-hour lunches during his four years of work at the prison. The lunches resulting in an overpayment of $36,864.  He began working at North Coast, then operated by CiviGenics Corp. of Marlborough, Mass., on July 1, 2001, the day after his personal-services contract expired at Lorain.  The prisons are in a cluster with Grafton Correctional Institution about 100 miles north of Columbus.  Officials with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's Bureau of Mental Health Services were unaware that Hegde, a resident of of Avon Lake, was working at North Coast, said department spokeswoman Andrea Dean.  Jacqueline Thomas, warden of North Coast, told state officials that Hegde "has not been a problem there at all and is conducting himself appropriately," Dean said.  "The warden has been apprised of our concern about (Hegde's) performance at Lorain and will monitor him," she said. The state has the right to review and veto the personnel decisions of prison contractors.  The North Coast prison is operated by Management Training Corp. of Ogden, Utah, under a $13.3 million annual contract.  Thomas did not return repeated telephone calls, and Hegde could not be reached for comment. Ralph Tate, health service administrator at North Coast, declined to comment.  In a May 16, 2001, letter to Lorain prison officials, Hegde denied their allegations. The 45-year-old native of India said his contract was not renewed because of "prejudice and malice."  (Columbus Dispatch)

July 31, 2002
Public employees and state-managed prisons are being forced to rescue a problem-plagued private prison, according to the state's prison employee union. Leaders from the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association said that today's transfer of 12 inmates involved in a disturbance at the privately-operated North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility to the Marion Correctional Institution was an unnecessary burden on the state prison system and a waste of public funds. MCI is managed and staffed by state workers.   "Why can't the private prisons take care of their own problems," said Darrell Starcher, president of OCSEA¹s chapter at MCI. "If the private prisons really thought they were our equal, they wouldn¹t need us to take care of their trouble makers."   According to union sources, the transfers were linked to an incident yesterday (July 29) at NCCTF in which at least a dozen inmates refused to put on prison clothing.   NCCTF is managed by the Management and Training Corporation, "So-called prison professionals should be ashamed that they couldn't handle a problem of this magnitude," said Starcher. "This would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that MCI and the other state prisons are already under stress from closures and staff reductions. We shouldn¹t be cleaning up problems that for-profit companies created."  (Ohio Civil Service Employees Association News Release)

July 30, 2002
Thirty-six inmates have been moved in the past week from their prisons to other institutions because of disciplinary problems.  Twelve inmates were moved Tuesday from the privately run North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton to the Marion Correctional Institution for refusing to wear proper uniforms, department spokeswoman Andrea Dean said.  On Saturday, 24 inmates at the Southeastern Correctional Institution in Lancaster who would not return to their living areas were moved to other prisons, Dean said.  The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, which represents some prison workers, including guards, said removal of 12 inmates from the privately run prison, which has nonunion guards, demonstrates that the state puts its problem inmates in union prisons.  "We shouldn't be cleaning up problems that for-profit companies created," said Darrell Starcher, the president of the union's local at the Marion prison.  Dean said that none of the disciplined Lancaster inmates were moved to private prisons.  "We're not targeting inmates in a private facility," Dean said.  (The Associated Press State and Local News Wire)

July 7, 2002
The company that operates the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility and the state' only other privately run prison has agreed to take a $400,000 cut in its contracts with state.  The future of the privately operated prison here appears more secure after the state negotiated its contract to lower costs by $400,000.  Management and Training Corp. of Utah, the company that runs North Coast Correctional Treatment Center in Grafton and another prison in Conneaut, agreed to the cut in contracts.  But if the economy tumbles and further cuts are ordered, the local privately run prison, as well as the one in Conneaut, could be targeted for closure, he said.  (The Chronicle-Telegram)

July 5, 2002
Housing units at four prisons will be closed and 56 jobs eliminated as part of the state prison system's response to a new round of budget cuts.  The state also will renegotiate contracts with the company running Ohio's two private prisons to seek reduced payments.  Wilkinson said Ogden, Utah-based Management and Training Corp. has agreed to reopen its contracts for the two private prisons it runs.  The company has a $21 million contract this year to run the 1,300-bed Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut and a $13.3 million contract to run the 550-bed  North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton.  The state wants to save $400,000 by renegotiating its contracts, department spokeswoman Andrea Dean said.  (The Associated Press State and Local Wire)

May 24, 2002
The private prison in Grafton likely will be the second correctional facility this year to close as a result of budget cuts.  Although department officials won't discuss their plans, some lawmakers said they expect to see the North Coast Correctional Institution on the chopping block.   NCCI opened in February 2000 as the state's first private prison. Lawmakers attempted to save money by letting private companies, rather than the government, operate the facilities. But private prisons generally have not met expectations.    "If they close one, I hope that's it," said Sen. Jim Carnes, R-St. Clairsville, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. "I'm not convinced that private prisons have been a great service to the people."   Management and Training Corp., based in Centerville, Utah, took over change management companies. It also runs Ohio's other private prison, in Conneaut.  (The News Journal)

January 13, 2001
Roy Ross, CEO of the Marlborough, Mass., company, said in a statement that tenacious opposition by the Ohio Civil service Employees Association contributed to the state's decision to pull the plug on Civigenics' $14.9 million contract to run the North Coast Correctional Treatment facility in Grafton. Ross said his company had a difficult time fighting qualified staff members, in part because the union successfully challenged Civigenics' efforts to have its private employees trained by state workers. On Wednesday, Reginald A. Wilkinson, director of the Ohio Department Rehabilitation and Correction, informed Civigenics that its contract to operate the 552-bed facility would not be renewed when it expires June 30. State officials cited mounting problems at the Grafton prison, including staff shortages, in dropping operator. (Today's Days Dispatch)

December 1, 2000
The state is withholding part of its monthly payment to a private company running a state prison because of concerns about the company's staffing levels. The state said that CiviGenics didn't meet minimum staffing levels for its alcohol and drug treatment programs between April and November as called for in the state's 21 month contract. In effect, the state said in a memo to warden Robert Clark last month, CiviGenics billed the state "for staff that were not employed." (Ohio News 7-Day Archive, Dec. 1, 2000)

December 1, 2000
The operator of a privately run prison billed the state almost $75,000 for employees who did not exist, according to state prison officials. CiviGenics billed the state for 956 days that counselors did not work, 147 days that supervisors did not work and 27 days the director did not work. Joe Andrews, a spokesman for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said the state could sanction CiviGenics if the company continued to under staff programs. (The Pain Dealer, Dec.1, 2000)

November 27, 2000
Residents and lawmakers are upset that a privately run state prison built to house and treat inmates convicted on drug and alcohol charges is now housing violent offenders.  According to prison records, most of the 562 inmates are serving time for drug or alcohol offenses, often in combination with another felony such as burglary or aggravated vehicular assault.  But 49 inmates convicted of crimes described as violent under state law were serving time at North Coast as of September. (The Plain Dealer, Nov. 27, 2000)

October 2000
The CiviGenics state prison meant to house drunk driving offenders is holding a large number of violent inmates according to the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association. More than sixteen percent of the inmates have been convicted of sexual battery, assault, arson, manslaughter, robbery, etc. (Cincinnati Enquirer via Corrections Professional, Oct.6, 2000)

May 4, 2000
A riot between guards and inmates at the brand new facility resulted in five inmates being transferred out. (The Chronicle-Telegram, June 30, 2000)

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections

Jul 31, 2014 seattlepi.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The state on Wednesday announced a second fine against the private vendor that took over the job of feeding inmates last year as the company defended its operations before a prisons oversight committee. The $130,200 fine against Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services covered continued staffing shortages, unacceptable food substitutions and shortages and sanitation issues, including maggots observed in food service operations at five prisons this month and last, according to Ohio's July 23 letter to the company. "There were and there are remaining concerns," Gary Mohr, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, told members of the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee. Mohr emphasized that problems are largely limited to seven prisons. He said some of the fine will be used to increase the training Aramark employees receive. "What was going on was just not adequate," he said. Mohr said Aramark has saved Ohio $13 million since September and likely prevented the state from having to close Hocking Correctional Facility in southeastern Ohio. The Aramark contract is on track to save Ohio more than $16 million next year, Mohr said. The state levied a $142,000 fine against Aramark in April. John Hanner, president of Aramark Correctional Services, defended his company's record in Ohio to the committee, saying food delays and substitutions have happened less than 1 percent of the time. Afterward, he said the company is committed to improving its Ohio operations. "Ninety-nine percent of the time our people are doing a great job," Hanner said. "These are Ohio citizens that we've hired. These people come to work every day and do a great job under trying circumstances." The quality of food has gone down since Aramark began work last September and food service concerns are more significant than in the past ten years, Joanna Saul, chief of the oversight committee, said in earlier testimony Wednesday. Aramark's low wages lead to high turnover and a temptation to smuggle in contraband, Saul said. "You're making $10 to $11, you can bring in a pack of cigarettes and sell it for $300 — what are you going to choose?" Saul said. Numerous reports have documented cases of Aramark running out of main and side dishes over the past several months. Reports also indicate several days when Aramark employees simply failed to show up, cases of unauthorized relationships between inmates and Aramark workers, and the reports of maggots. Ninety-six Aramark employees are banned from working in Ohio prisons, according to the state. Aramark's $110 million deal to feed some 50,000 Ohio prisoners began in September and runs through June 30, 2015. The prison employees union has filed a formal grievance over the Aramark contract. It said it offered a competitive proposal to keep food service in-house. In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder's administration is approaching a decision on possibly reconsidering Aramark's 3-year, $145 million contract. Earlier this year, Michigan officials reported two incidents of maggots found in a prison's food service area in Jackson. At issue is a bigger national debate over privatizing prison services — from food preparation to the running of entire facilities — to save money at a time of squeezed state budgets. The seven prisons with the most problems, according to the state: Warren, Belmont, Noble, Mansfield, Pickaway, Lebanon and the Ohio Reformatory for Women.


February 08, 2013 morningjournal.com

PERKINS TOWNSHIP — A cook at the Erie County Jail has been arrested after admitting to bringing tobacco, liquor and a pair of scissors to inmates who worked with her in the kitchen. Mildred Hensley, 59, of Sandusky, has been charged with two counts of illegal conveyance of prohibited items or deadly weapons onto the grounds of a detention facility or institution. One count is a misdemeanor charge for bringing the alcohol while the other is a felony as the scissors could have been used as a weapon, said Erie County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jared Oliver. Tobacco is not listed as a prohibited item. Hensley was busted after an anonymous tipster told deputies Tuesday that Hensley gave inmates a two-liter Sprite bottle full of Tanqueray gin on Super Bowl Sunday. When Hensley came to work Wednesday, she was stopped by the jail administrator and admitted that she had been bringing tobacco for the inmates for at least four months. The investigation found that she’d brought alcohol on Sunday and that a pair of scissors she had with her were meant for an inmate so he could cut his hair, according to Oliver. It does not appear that Hensley gained anything from the deliveries, he said. “She said she did it because she wanted to,” he said. “She said there is really no other reason than that.” Hensley has worked in the jail’s kitchen for more than 20 years as an employee of food services company ARAMARK. In the kitchen, she worked with inmates convicted of misdemeanor crimes. The inmates cut time off their sentence through the work, Oliver said. Three of the inmates involved with the Super Bowl incident have been removed from kitchen and their accumulated time has been revoked, Oliver said. Detectives are interviewing inmates and trying to determine how long Hensley has been doling out goods. Some of the inmates she has helped might not even be in the facility anymore, he said. Hensley was bringing items inside her purse, Oliver said. The matter has raised concern over the potentially lax security imposed on employees. “That is one of the issues we are reviewing concerning the jail staff and the security that takes place when they either come to work or depart from work,” he said. “This is an isolated incident, but we are looking at our security procedures when it comes to staff in our kitchen.”

July 12, 2012 Columbus Dispatch
Arguing that workers lost their jobs and had their lives uprooted, the state’s largest employee union has gone to court over private prisons. The Ohio Civil Services Employees Association filed suit Monday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. The suit represents 270 union members who were “laid off or otherwise negatively affected” when the state turned over the North Central Correctional Institution in Marion to a private operator and sold the Lake Erie Correctional Facility in Conneaut in Ashtabula County. The union listed 11 individual employees who it said lost jobs, were “uprooted from their communities or were wrongfully excluded from employment” when the prisons became private. The union wants the private-prison contracts overturned and the employees to get their old jobs back. “While we believe this privatization is unlawful, our bigger concern is the impact that privatization has on our members’ lives,” said union President Christopher Mabe. “Not only is privatization unsafe and bad public business, it’s devastating for the lives of these employees and their communities. These public servants did nothing wrong and now are being punished by bad public policies.” Last year, the state agreed to sell the Lake Erie prison to the Corrections Corporation of America, of Nashville, Tenn., for $72.7 million. The state pays the company to house prisoners there. At the same time, the Marion prison was shifted to Management and Training Corp., of Centerville, Utah, and the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Lorain County, previously operated by Management and Training Corp., was taken over by the state. Spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction won’t comment because the litigation is pending.

September 1, 2011 All Headline News
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections announced Thursday the winning bidders in the $200 million privatization of prisons in Ashtabula and Marion counties. Two out of three bidders won the contracts: Corrections Corp. of America (CCA) of Nashville, TN, and Management and Training Corp. (MTC) of Centerville, UT. The Geo Group Inc. of Boca Raton, FL, was the losing bidder. The state of Ohio pushed through with the announcement after a Columbus judge denied a restraining order by opposition groups to halt the process. Five adult prisons out of the state's 32 corrections facilities were up for grabs. CCA will take over the operations of Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Ashtabula County, while MTC will manage Marion County's North Central Correctional Institution and the vacant Marion Juvenile Correctional Facility. The MTC-operated North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Lorain County will be turned over to Ohio and merged with the state-operated Grafton Correctional Institution.

April 24, 2011 Toledo Blade
Gov. John Kasich promotes privatization as a way for state government to save money and deliver public services more efficiently. But a credible new study suggests the Kasich administration has yet to make a compelling case for selling five state prisons to private contractors. The liberal advocacy group Policy Matters Ohio examined purported savings over the past decade from private operation of two state prisons. It concludes that the state’s methods for calculating seemingly robust savings from the experiment were “riddled with errors, oversights, and omissions of significant data” and were “potentially tainted by controversial accounting assumptions.” Once those errors were corrected, the study says, the actual savings were far less. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction concedes that previous computations of cost savings were inconsistent and imprecise. A department spokesman says the Kasich administration is using a more accurate method based on actual operating costs of established prisons. The state posted bids for the purchase and sale of the five prisons before the new accounting method came on line. The administration insists updated calculations still show Ohio’s two current private prisons are meeting their legal mandate to produce savings of at least 5 percent over what it would cost the state to run them. Even so, the new study raises doubts about the cost-saving claims associated with prison privatization. Before the state sells more prisons to private entrepreneurs, the administration must show a compelling fiscal rationale and, just as important, resolve concerns about private prisons’ effectiveness and safety.

April 18, 2011 Dayton Daily News
Ten years after Ohio first turned to private contractors to run two state prisons, the state has yet to devise an accurate, reliable way to calculate how much money, if any, has been actually saved, according to a new study released Monday. Policy Matters Ohio, a left-leaning think tank based in Cleveland, issued the 22-page report just as the Kasich administration moves to sell off five state prisons and hire the new owners to operate them. Previous calculations have been “riddled with errors, oversights and omissions of significant data” and “potentially tainted by controversial accounting assumptions,” the report said. State law requires that a private vendor’s price beat state costs by at least 5 percent — a figure that Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says has been consistently met over the last 10 years. Ohio prison officials say that the private vendor has saved taxpayers more than $45 million over what it would have cost had the state run Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut and North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton. State officials project that selling those two prisons as well as two others and a shuttered juvenile facility would bring in $200 million in cash and produce annual operational savings of $6.6 million. Policy Matters, however, questions whether privatizing the two prisons actually produced savings. In calculating the private vendor’s daily costs, DRC left out expenses picked up by the state such as inmate pay and some hospitalization costs, the report says. And when calculating how much it would cost DRC to run Lake Erie and North Coast, DRC used bloated staffing and indirect cost figures, according to the report. “At the very least, that should give taxpayers pause. It may eventually turn out that private prisons do save money. But after 10 years of claiming it, Ohio has fallen well short of proving it,” the report says. DRC spokesman Carlo LoParo said some changes are being made to the formulas used but he criticized the report overall as “incomplete and aimed at accomplishing their ideological objectives. Based on the data available to Policy Matters, the researcher could only have arrived at these figures by making broad assumptions that benefit his client’s point of view. The report is based on a kernel of truth, but the facts are bended to mislead.”

March 18, 2011 Chronicle-Telegram
State Rep. Matt Lundy is questioning whether it is a conflict of interest for state prisons director Gary C. Mohr to be involved in the matter of selling five Ohio prisons to private companies because Mohr used to work for Corrections Corporation of America, one of the private prison operators who could bid on purchasing Grafton Correction Institution and North Coast Correctional Institution in Grafton. Lundy, D-Elyria, sent a letter to the Ohio Ethics Commission on Thursday asking the group to make recommendations on what level of involvement is proper for Mohr. “It is important that this perception of a conflict of interest be addressed by putting ground rules in place,” Lundy wrote. “This perception of a conflict of interest must be taken seriously and addressed immediately.” Carlo LoParo, communications chief for the prison system, accused Lundy of “playing politics.”

March 14, 2011 Chronicle-Telegram
The Grafton Correctional Institution and the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility will be sold as a package to a private prison operator, state Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, said this morning. Lundy learned of the decision when he got a phone call at 9 a.m. from Gary C. Mohr, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Lundy said. Grafton Correctional is one of two state-operated prisons in Grafton. North Coast is privately operated. The staff at the two prisons totals roughly 540 workers, according to their websites. Together they hold more than 2,200 inmates. The state will choose a private operator by the end of July, Lundy said, and it will begin running the prisons at the start of 2012. The operator will conduct interviews for prospective employees between Sept. 1 and the end of the year. Private operators typically pay $13.25 per hour, less than state pay of $15 per hour, he said.

January 24, 2011 AP
Gov. Paul LePage announced Monday that a Maine transportation official with a reputation for getting the most mileage out of scarce dollars is his choice to head that department, and a career administrator who has run public and private prisons in several other states will be his nominee to head Maine's corrections system. David Bernhardt, of Vassalboro, an engineer with 26 years experience in the department that oversees and maintains Maine's highway, bridge, ferry and other public transportation systems, will be his nominee for commissioner. LePage said he wanted to hire a commissioner "who can take a nickel and stretch it into a dollar. The name that kept coming up is David Bernhardt." Bernhardt has consolidated transportation maintenance facilities and formed a partnership with New Hampshire to save on purchases such as road culverts, resulting in $10 million in annual savings for Maine, LePage said. The emphasis on savings comes as the transportation budget falls hundreds of millions of dollars short of what's needed to keep up with proposed capital improvements for highways and bridges. Asked whether an increase in Maine's 29.5 cent-per-gallon gas tax plays into a solution to raising more revenue for the department, LePage said, "It doesn't." That policy was seconded by Bernhardt, who said his "first job is to look for efficiencies and cost-effective solutions without having to raise the gas tax." LePage's nominee for Corrections commissioner, Joseph Ponte, has held administrative positions in corrections systems in Idaho, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Tennessee. Ponte's resume shows he's also worked for private firms that run prisons, including Corrections Corporation of America, his employer since 2006. Ponte said he's helped to turn around troubled prisons, including a maximum-security state prison in Walpole, Mass., which he said had been one of the most violent on the East Coast, and a county jail in Memphis, Tenn., that experienced staff problems. He is currently running a detention center in Nevada for CCA. LePage said Ponte's association with CCA should "absolutely" not be taken as a gesture favoring privatization of Maine's prison system. However, LePage said he would be open to allowing a private-sector prison come to Maine, build a prison, pay taxes and house other state's prisoners. "I may consider that," he said.

January 4, 2011 Columbus Dispatch
Gov.-elect John Kasich, who has said he wants to explore privatizing state prison operations, has chosen a former longtime state prisons official who later worked at a company that operates private prisons to run the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Kasich introduced Gary C. Mohr during a press conference this afternoon at the Ross County Courthouse in Chillicothe, Mohr's hometown. He is the 11th cabinet nomination so far before Kasich takes office on Monday. Kasich and Mohr pledged that all state decisions involving privatization would publicly bid and transparent and that Mohr would abstain from any decision involving his former employer, Corrections Corporation of America, a private operator. Mohr, 57, worked for three decades in the state prison system, serving as deputy agency director under former Republican Govs. George V. Voinovich and Bob Taft. Mohr also held a variety of other positions, including as a warden in Chillicothe and two other facilities and both deputy director and superintendent of the Department of Youth Services. From 2007-09, Mohr was a managing director for Nashville-based CCA which owns and operates a private prison in Youngstown that houses federal inmates. The company runs 60 prison facilities housing 75,000 inmates in 18 states and the District of Columbia. Mohr currently is chief executive of the consulting company, Mohr Correctional Insight, which has mostly worked with CCA, including instituting a new management system for prison staffing. He has been in that position since 2009 after earlier serving from 2005-07.

January 22, 2003
A variety of factors will determine which of Ohio's prisons will close to help trim a state budget shortfall, officials said Tuesday.  Andrea Dean, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman, confirmed the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut is "on the table" and not exempt from consideration. The privately managed prison is one of 33 prisons under review.  Several factors will determine which prison - or prisons - are closed, Dean said. Location, age, security issues and maintenance costs are among the variables, she said. If so, that bodes well for LaECI, which opened its doors in April 2000, said State Rep. George Distel, D-Conneaut.  In the meantime, Distel said he was preparing a report for prison leaders, detailing the financial investment made by the City of Conneaut regarding the prison. His report will touch on money spent years ago to buy land and to extend water and sewer lines for the prison project. As a result of the financial incentives, the city has incurred some debt on behalf of the prison, Distel said.    (Star Beacon)

November 10, 2001
A much-criticized contract to feed convicts in a southeastern Ohio prison is merely one example of a much-larger problem with the state's efforts to privatize government operations, a union spokesman said yesterday.  Peter Wray of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association made his comments shortly after Auditor Jim Petro released a report that severely lambasted the 1998 contract.  "This is just the tip of the iceberg,'' Wray said. "This is a textbook case of why privatization doesn't work. The hidden costs of privatization happen in case after case.''  Petro's audit involved a contract between the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and Aramark Correctional Services to provide meals for prisoners at Noble Correctional Institution in Caldwell.  Previously, full-time state employees bought the food for Noble's 1,730 inmates and oversaw its preparation and distribution. But in November 1998, the state awarded a two-year contract to Aramark, a private company based in Oakbrook, Ill., to take over the operation for $3.52 million.  Prisoners soon complained about the quality and quantity of the food and the contract was verbally amended during a closed-door meeting between the company and state officials.  The amended contract allowed the company to charge taxpayers $2.1 million -- 60 percent -- more, the audit found.  After months of negative publicity, the correction department last year chose not to renew the contract with Aramark. Instead, the department awarded a two-year contract to Local 11 of the civil service employees union, which allows state employees to again take over food-service operations at Noble.  At a news conference yesterday, Petro said amending the Aramark contract did not violate the law. However, the change "allowed for the waste of public dollars,'' he added.  Ideally, contracts should be written so they don't have to be amended, Petro said.  And if an amendment is necessary, it should be done in writing, not verbally and in private, he said.  Privatizing some government operations can save taxpayers money, Petro added.  However, such privatizing must be closely monitored by state officials to prevent hidden expenses and cost overruns, he said.  Wray contended that the Aramark contract is relatively small, compared with other privatization efforts by the corrections department and other agencies.  Entire operations -- not just food services -- are privatized at Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut and the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton, Wray noted.  Those two prisons, which hold 1,360 and 530 inmates, respectively, opened last year with private companies providing all employees.  Wray said his union has heard repeated complaints about lax supervision, high turnover and mistreatment of inmates at both prisons.  But Thomas Stickrath, the correction department's assistant director, said operations there are being handled efficiently.  The correction department has assigned a full-time monitor at each of the prisons to keep close tabs on privatized operations, Stickrath said.  He acknowledged that Aramark "was not a perfect vendor.'' But when Local 11 bid on a new contract, the union came up with ways the state employees could cut food-service costs, Stickrath said.  "We sat down with the union and negotiated a better deal,'' he said.  Petro's audit yesterday also criticized a program that allows prisoners to take college courses. Many inmates who enrolled in the courses never actually attended classes, wasting $3 million, the audit found.  Stickrath conceded that his agency's monitoring of the inmate education program was "sloppy.''  New procedures have been implemented to ensure taxpayers are not charged for courses that inmates do not attend, he said.  (The Columbus Disatch)

November 9, 2001
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction also paid a private food-service company $2.08 million more for meals served to inmates than the state's contract with the company required, according to the audit.  The report by state Auditor Jim Petro has two parts. The first is an investigation of a contract between the state and Aramark, which is based in Oakbrook, Ill., to provide meals to inmates at Noble Correctional Institution in Caldwell.  Petro began investigating the Aramark contract in December 1999 after getting an anonymous tip that the company was billing the state for meals it hadn't served, according to the report.  A state employees' union took over food service at Noble after Aramark's contract expired.  (AP)

May 22, 2001
Two private companies managing state-owned prisons are violating state law and have created unnecessary dangers because of high turnover rates among their security staff, according to one of Ohio's state employee unions.  The group says that, according to information obtained yesterday from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, the Management and Training Corp. and the CiviGenics Corp., which manage state prisons in Conneaut and Grafton, respectively, are ignoring laws that require the companies to keep annual turnover rates below 20 percent.  CiviGenics' turnover at the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility was 52 percent for 2000, and plus an additional 13 percent turnover in the first quarter of 2001.  MTC's Lake Erie Correctional Institution was in operation for only nine months in 2000, yet they had a 25 percent turnover among their security staff.  The Criminal Justice Institute's 1999 Corrections Yearbook showed that the average reported turnover rate was nearly 41 percent.  (Ohio Civil Service Employees Association News Release) 

March 22, 2001
The Internal Revenue Service, at odds with Ohio over the state's use of private contractors to fill prison jobs, is auditing hundreds of contracts from 1998 and 1999. The largest of the 438 contracts were held by psychiatrists, doctors and other medical professional, including more than 60 six-figure agreements.  The IRS has strict rules for when a worker is classified as an independent contractor, which involves a different method of tax payment. In the state's case, the IRS is claiming that the prison contractors should have been state employees and taxed as such, said Tina Krueger, a lawyer with the prison system. The state argues that it's up to private contractors to pay their own federal taxes. The contractors pay taxes now under different IRS rules for independent contractors. (AP, March 22, 2001)

Ohio Legislature
Security records mixed for private prison firms: August 6, 2011 By Tom Beyerlein and Laura A. Bischoff, Daytona Daily News
New lobbyists in Ohio have strong Republican ties: July 04, 2011 By Mark Naymik, The Plain Dealer

 

Jun 25, 2014 The Columbus Dispatch

The Ohio Supreme Court agreed today to hear an appeal by Gov. John Kasich that seeks to prevent an unprecedented court-ordered review that could invalidate “fraudulent” parts of a prior state budget. The governor and other statewide officials contend a hearing to dissect the 2012-13 budget bill and its hundreds of changes in state law would illegally amount to “judicial line-item vetoes.” The Franklin County Court of Appeals ordered the review in finding that lawmakers violated the “one subject/one bill” provision of the Ohio Constitution by inserting a prison-privatization measure in the $55.8 billion budget. The appellate court ordered Common Pleas Court Judge Patrick E. Sheeran, who had previously dismissed the case, to review the budget and strike “fraudulent” sections that violate the one-subject requirement. The budget also addressed such diverse matters as abortion restrictions, teacher merit pay, a gambling hot line, barber licenses and court testimony by coroners. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association and ProgressOhio filed the lawsuit over the section of the budget that privatized one prison and sold another. The union seeks damages for employees who lost jobs and invalidation of the private-prison contracts, returning both prisons to state control and ownership. The Supreme Court also accepted an appeal by Dale Johnston, a Grove City man who spent seven years on Death Row after he was wrongly convicted of the murders of his stepdaughter and her fiancé. He is asking the justices to reverse a Franklin County Court of Appeals ruling that threw out a trial judge's finding that he was illegally detained for the 1982 dismemberment slayings in Hocking County. Another man was convicted of the crimes more than a quarter century later. Such a finding is required before Johnston can obtain damages for wrongful imprisonment from the state.


Jul 15, 2013 sfgate.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A private vendor in line to begin feeding roughly 100,000 prison inmates in Ohio and Michigan has a track record of billing for food it doesn't serve, using substandard ingredients and riling prisoners with its meal offerings, past audits in several states show. But some states say Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services has performed well. The audits in Ohio, Florida and Kentucky found Aramark charged states for meals not served, changed recipes to substitute cheaper ingredients and sometimes skimped on portions. A 2001 audit by then-Ohio Auditor Jim Petro found a verbal amendment to Aramark's two-year contract led the state prisons department to pay Aramark for serving almost 4.5 million meals rather than the 2.8 million meals it actually served. That added $2.1 million to the contract cost. An internal audit by Florida's prisons department in 2007 concluded Aramark's practice of charging the state per inmate rather than per meal created "a windfall for the vendor" after a large number of inmates stopped showing up for meals, reducing company costs by $4.9 million a year. The review found the company was paid for some 6,000 meals a day that it didn't serve. Aramark stopped serving Florida's prison meals in 2009. Kentucky's state auditor launched a review of Aramark in response to the 2009 prison riot at Northpoint Training Center sparked over food issues. Auditor Crit Luallen's 2010 report found Aramark overbilled the state by as much as $130,000 a year, charging for the meals of as many as 3,300 inmates that were shown through head counts not to be incarcerated. Besides payments for unserved meals, the audits found Aramark sometimes substituted cheaper ingredients — receiving inmate-grown food against contract terms or substituting less expensive meat products, for example — without passing savings on to taxpayers. During an Ohio site visit, inspectors reported witnessing a "near riot" at breakfast when Aramark adhered strictly to its contractual portion sizes. In general, states still saved money overall — the primary enticement behind the latest privatization efforts in Ohio and Michigan. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's administration initially decided not to privatize certain prison services after determining three contracts out for bid didn't achieve the savings state law required. Fellow Republicans in the Legislature balked and officials re-evaluated the cost estimates, ultimately awarding the contract to Aramark on grounds the company's proposal would cut about $16 million from the state's current $73 million food service budget. Democrats said the state had "magically reworked the money." The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association questions whether Aramark can deliver the $14 million in annual savings it has promised the administration of Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich without cutting corners. The union, which represents roughly 8,600 state workers in Ohio's adult and youth prisons, had made its own higher bid aimed at keeping prison food service in-house. "As much as the state says they want to give them another shot, all you've got to do is look at their recent history in Kentucky and Florida and you'll see they haven't changed from when Jim Petro did his investigation years ago," said Tim Shafer, the union's operations director. "That's how they make money." Calls and emails from The Associated Press to Aramark seeking comment weren't immediately returned. The $110 million Ohio deal to feed some 50,000 inmates starts Sept. 8 and runs through June 30, 2015, with two opportunities to extend. More than 230 of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's 433 food service workers have been moved to other positions, and additional relocations are being attempted. The deal calls for the state to pay Aramark for serving three meals a day to the number of inmates at the previous day's midnight census count — a per-inmate arrangement rather than per meal like those criticized by auditors in the past. Michigan's change of heart on cost savings also hinged on agreeing to Aramark's assumption that all 44,000 state inmates would eat three meals a day, a state bulletin on the matter indicated. Shafer said the contracts are a recipe for overbilling. "Not every inmate eats. Not every inmate eats every day. Not every inmate eats every meal," he said. JoEllen Smith, a spokeswoman for Ohio's corrections department, said the state requested "multiple pricing methodologies" from prospective vendors and determined that basing the contract on midnight census counts was the most cost-effective. She said this contract won't allow for verbal changes. Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay said Kansas pays Aramark on "a kind of sliding scale" based on the average population per facility the previous month. He said the state has had a generally positive experience. "We've been using them for at least a decade and overall the track record's been very good," said Barclay. "Keep in mind, we also have internal procedures to make sure that's going well. We don't just sign a contract and say, 'Everything will be well.' We monitor that carefully." Kentucky has also chosen to put safeguards in place as a result of the 2010 audit findings, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb. Among other things, the department established a new position devoted to helping monitor the contract, she said.

July 12, 2012 Columbus Dispatch
Arguing that workers lost their jobs and had their lives uprooted, the state’s largest employee union has gone to court over private prisons. The Ohio Civil Services Employees Association filed suit Monday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. The suit represents 270 union members who were “laid off or otherwise negatively affected” when the state turned over the North Central Correctional Institution in Marion to a private operator and sold the Lake Erie Correctional Facility in Conneaut in Ashtabula County. The union listed 11 individual employees who it said lost jobs, were “uprooted from their communities or were wrongfully excluded from employment” when the prisons became private. The union wants the private-prison contracts overturned and the employees to get their old jobs back. “While we believe this privatization is unlawful, our bigger concern is the impact that privatization has on our members’ lives,” said union President Christopher Mabe. “Not only is privatization unsafe and bad public business, it’s devastating for the lives of these employees and their communities. These public servants did nothing wrong and now are being punished by bad public policies.” Last year, the state agreed to sell the Lake Erie prison to the Corrections Corporation of America, of Nashville, Tenn., for $72.7 million. The state pays the company to house prisoners there. At the same time, the Marion prison was shifted to Management and Training Corp., of Centerville, Utah, and the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Lorain County, previously operated by Management and Training Corp., was taken over by the state. Spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction won’t comment because the litigation is pending.

August 11, 2011 Portsmouth Daily Times
Two Democratic state representatives are raising concerns over the privatization of five state prisons. The legislators, Matt Lundy (D-Elyria) and W. Carlton Weddington (D-Columbus), sent a public records request to the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) and the governor’s office asking that the bids to privatize five Ohio prisons be made public. “I continue to raise concerns over the secretive process in which Ohio’s prisons are being privatized. Previous questions over safety, cost and accountability have gone unanswered and ignored. Unfortunately, it has become clear this is just another example of Gov. (John) Kasich rewarding his friends,” Lundy said. “Today, we call for the governor to release the bids that CCA (Corrections Corporation of America), GEO Group and MTC (Management and Training Corp) have submitted. The public deserves to know what price tag has been put on their safety.” The three companies mentioned by Lundy have submitted bids to purchase Ohio prisons, and, according to legislative aides for the offices of Lundy and Weddington, Kasich received contributions for his transition fund of $10,000 each from two of the companies seeking to purchase the prisons. They also said all three companies hired close Kasich ties to lobby for their firms’ interest, including Kasich’s former congressional chief of staff and two political advisors to his gubernatorial campaign. In July, Carlo LoParo of the DRC said North Central Correctional Institution in Marion and Grafton Correctional Institution in Lorain County were the only two public facilities affected by privatization. LoParo said Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Ashtabula is already a privately operated, state-owned facility, as is North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Lorain. Marion Juvenile Correctional Facility, also in Marion, is a vacant facility the DRC is including in the sale. “I reiterate concerns today over the privatization of five state prisons. The CIIC’s (Correctional Institution Inspection Committee) recent report showing massive overcrowding coupled with the announcement of 950 jobs being lost should raise red flags for the public and the Kasich administration,” Weddingon said. “Our safety and the safety of inmates are at risk. It is simply inexcusable that Gov. Kasich continue to keep the legislature and the public in the dark while our safety and security are at risk.” Kasich Spokesman Rob Nichols shot back: “It is baffling that as a former investigative reporter and current lawmaker, Mr. Lundy could be so catastrophically unfamiliar with Ohio Law.” Nichols was citing ORC 125.07: “In order to ensure fair and impartial evaluation, proposals and related documents submitted in response to a request for proposals are not available for public inspection and copying under section 149.43 of the Revised Code until after the award of the contract.”

June 27, 2011 Crain's Cleveland Business
It's easy to miss all the tax breaks lurking in a 5,000-page document, such as Ohio's next two-year budget. So it won't be surprising if, in the end, several less-publicized proposals consistent with Gov. John Kasich's desire to make the state more business friendly by lowering taxes survive the negotiating process and make it into the budget's final form. For example, Gov. Kasich disclosed June 16 in a speech to members of the Ohio Society of CPAs that he would be taking to a House-Senate conference committee — thus bypassing public scrutiny before standing committees in the Legislature — a tax break he called “Invest Ohio.” Under this proposal, any Ohioan who invests in any Ohio business large or small and holds that investment for two years will pay no state income tax on any gain from that investment. Also escaping public attention are a number of proposed tax breaks in the budget bill involving the state's commercial activity tax, or CAT, which taxes a business' gross receipts in Ohio at a rate of 0.26% once they exceed $1 million. (Companies with gross receipts under $1 million pay a flat $150.) A job retention tax credit — similar to one used to keep the headquarters of American Greetings Corp., Bob Evans Farms Inc. and Diebold Inc. in Ohio — would give large companies that commit to keeping employees in an existing location a CAT or income tax credit of as much as 75% of payroll for 15 years. In a similar vein, the House's version of the budget exempts operators of private prisons from the CAT, while the Senate bill exempts those transactions involving the sale and exchange of enriched uranium. The latter exemption would be aimed at helping promote job creation at a proposed uranium enrichment plant in Piketon in southern Ohio.

May 19, 2011 Journal-Register
Gov. John Kasich said his policies to spark job growth and promote business are working. Kasich spoke about the state budget and Senate Bill 5 to more than 200 people gathered yesterday at Kalt Manufacturing, 36700 Sugar Ridge Road, North Ridgeville. “I don’t practice politics as usual,” Kasich said. In the last 10 years, Ohio lost more jobs than every state but Michigan and California, Kasich said. Young people and families are leaving the state, which stands to lose two congressional seats based on the 2010 Census, he said. However, Ohio’s changing policies will keep some businesses that had considered leaving the state, Kasich said. He cited the examples of American Greetings, Diebold, Bob Evans restaurants and Goodyear. With a backdrop of a 20-ton lift and the new 16,000-square-foot expansion at Kalt Manufacturing, Kasich emphasized the jobs at that factory and other manufacturers are good jobs. Ohio’s state government agencies needs to handle their budgets like Ohio’s families do, Kasich said. “If you’ve got less money you’ve got to figure out what your priorities are,” Kasich said. Young people should consider vocational education and Ohio needs to do a better job connecting workers and employers, Kasich said. He touted ohiomeansjobs.com, a state website that aims to match employers and job seekers. The crowd chuckled when Kasich asserted he is from the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young school of business development. “Love the One You’re With,” Kasich said, repeating the title of the folk song by Stephen Stills. Ohio first must promote growth among its existing businesses before trying to attract new employers from elsewhere, he said. Kasich fielded questions from the audience and those attending shared their concerns. North Ridgeville Service Director Jeff Armbruster, a former Republican state senator, said the community has a 1 percent income tax and the local governments do not have the fat to trim much more. “I know at this time it’s tough,” Kasich said. However, the key to improving municipal finances is for new businesses to start and grow, Kasich said. The alternative is to raise taxes, he said, but if that happens Ohio will lose jobs. Sheffield Village Mayor John Hunter, a Democrat, said Kasich is making budget cuts on the backs of working men and women around the state. Kasich countered that workers in the private sector economy are hurting and Ohio is losing jobs to states such as Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. Selling Ohio’s prisons to private companies will drive up the police costs in Grafton, said Village Council President Tom Smith. The governor stated the buyers would pay local taxes, Smith said, but that policy was changed in Columbus. Kasich promised to look into that policy because his prison chief earlier promised the private prison operators would pay taxes.

May 3, 2011 Columbus Dispatch
Robert Klaffky, lobbyist and longtime friend and adviser of Gov. John Kasich, was appointed by the governor to the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board last week. Klaffky helped devise Kasich's plan for JobsOhio - a private economic-development entity - during Kasich's campaign last year. Klaffky's lobbying gigs include, but are not limited to: the GEO Group Inc., which deals in privatized prisons; CompManagement, a managed-care organization for workers' compensation insurance; Intralot, USA, a gaming services operator; Altair Learning Management, run by the founder of Ohio's only online charter school.

April 24, 2011 Toledo Blade
Gov. John Kasich promotes privatization as a way for state government to save money and deliver public services more efficiently. But a credible new study suggests the Kasich administration has yet to make a compelling case for selling five state prisons to private contractors. The liberal advocacy group Policy Matters Ohio examined purported savings over the past decade from private operation of two state prisons. It concludes that the state’s methods for calculating seemingly robust savings from the experiment were “riddled with errors, oversights, and omissions of significant data” and were “potentially tainted by controversial accounting assumptions.” Once those errors were corrected, the study says, the actual savings were far less. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction concedes that previous computations of cost savings were inconsistent and imprecise. A department spokesman says the Kasich administration is using a more accurate method based on actual operating costs of established prisons. The state posted bids for the purchase and sale of the five prisons before the new accounting method came on line. The administration insists updated calculations still show Ohio’s two current private prisons are meeting their legal mandate to produce savings of at least 5 percent over what it would cost the state to run them. Even so, the new study raises doubts about the cost-saving claims associated with prison privatization. Before the state sells more prisons to private entrepreneurs, the administration must show a compelling fiscal rationale and, just as important, resolve concerns about private prisons’ effectiveness and safety.

April 15, 2011 Columbus-Dispatch
Turning more Ohio prisons over to private operators won't save much money, will undermine sentencing reform and will pose a security risk, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio said yesterday. Prisons for Profit, an ACLU report looking at prison privatization, concluded that Gov. John Kasich "is not doing the taxpayers of Ohio any favors" by planning to sell five state prisons. "Doing so will not only worsen the strain on Ohio's budget, it will also work strongly against the rehabilitation of low-level offenders and jeopardize the safety of ordinary Ohioans," the group concluded. About 9 percent of nearly 1.6 million incarcerated people in the United States are in private prisons. The Kasich administration has solicited bids to sell the state-owned, privately operated Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut and North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton; the state-owned and operated North Central Correctional Institution in Marion and Grafton Correctional Institution in Grafton; and a closed youth prison in Marion. Estimates of the sale proceeds range from $50million to $200 million. Administration officials say the deal offers the state short-term gain from the sales revenue and long-term benefit by reduced operating costs. However, the ACLU said national studies show cost savings from private prisons are minimal. They do make money for operators such as Corrections Corporation of America, the largest such firm in the United States with $1.7 billion in income last year. Donald Thibaut, Kasich's close friend and campaign adviser, is now a lobbyist for CCA, based in Nashville, Tenn. Robert F. Klaffky and Douglas J. Preisse, also formerly in the Kasich campaign's inner circle, are lobbying partners representing a competing private prison firm, the CEO Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla. Sentencing reform, also a goal of the Kasich administration, would be undermined, the ACLU said, because private operators make money by keeping facilities full. In addition, the group said, there are more inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff assaults in private versus government-owned prisons.

March 18, 2011 Chronicle-Telegram
State Rep. Matt Lundy is questioning whether it is a conflict of interest for state prisons director Gary C. Mohr to be involved in the matter of selling five Ohio prisons to private companies because Mohr used to work for Corrections Corporation of America, one of the private prison operators who could bid on purchasing Grafton Correction Institution and North Coast Correctional Institution in Grafton. Lundy, D-Elyria, sent a letter to the Ohio Ethics Commission on Thursday asking the group to make recommendations on what level of involvement is proper for Mohr. “It is important that this perception of a conflict of interest be addressed by putting ground rules in place,” Lundy wrote. “This perception of a conflict of interest must be taken seriously and addressed immediately.” Carlo LoParo, communications chief for the prison system, accused Lundy of “playing politics.”

March 14, 2011 Chronicle-Telegram
The Grafton Correctional Institution and the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility will be sold as a package to a private prison operator, state Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, said this morning. Lundy learned of the decision when he got a phone call at 9 a.m. from Gary C. Mohr, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Lundy said. Grafton Correctional is one of two state-operated prisons in Grafton. North Coast is privately operated. The staff at the two prisons totals roughly 540 workers, according to their websites. Together they hold more than 2,200 inmates. The state will choose a private operator by the end of July, Lundy said, and it will begin running the prisons at the start of 2012. The operator will conduct interviews for prospective employees between Sept. 1 and the end of the year. Private operators typically pay $13.25 per hour, less than state pay of $15 per hour, he said.

February 2, 2011 Columbus Dispatch
Gov. John Kasich said yesterday that there will be no special favors for three of his former inner-circle campaign advisers now lobbying for clients that could benefit from his administration's actions. Kasich, who during the campaign railed against special interests with their "snouts in the trough," told The Dispatch that clients of Donald Thibaut, Robert F. Klaffky and Douglas J. Preisse will get no preferred treatment. "All of my friends understand," Kasich said. "I've told them, 'You're crazy if you don't make it clear to (clients), you don't get any favors out of me.' There is no favoritism." Thibaut, Kasich's former congressional chief of staff and his acknowledged closest friend, registered for the first time as a lobbyist in a firm he created, The Credo Company. Among the six clients Thibaut reported signing up is Corrections Corporation of America, a Nashville-based prison operator that could benefit if Kasich seeks to privatize Ohio prisons. CCA currently operates a federal prison in Youngstown. Gary C. Mohr, whom Kasich appointed director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, spent five years as a consultant to CCA, which designs, builds and manages federal and state prisons. Klaffky and Preisse, partners in the long-standing Capitol Square lobbying firm of Van Meter, Ashbrook and Associates, represent The GEO Group Inc., a Florida-based competitor of CCA.

January 31, 2011 AP
State lobbyist registration documents show a long-time adviser and political ally to Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik) has lined up a stable of clients he'll pitch to the new administration that specialize in energy, education, technology and private prisons. One of Don Thibaut's (TEE'-bohz) clients, Corrections Corporation of America, could stand to gain if Kasich pursues expanded prison privatization to help close an estimated $8 billion budget gap. The company retained Thibaut's new lobbying firm in mid-December. Thibaut spent nearly 20 years as Kasich's chief of staff in Congress and received compensation through political committees associated with Kasich for a decade. Thibaut's lobbying firm, The Credo Company, declined comment. Ohio already has two state-owned, privately-run prisons. Neither is operated by CCA.

January 4, 2011 Columbus Dispatch
Gov.-elect John Kasich, who has said he wants to explore privatizing state prison operations, has chosen a former longtime state prisons official who later worked at a company that operates private prisons to run the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Kasich introduced Gary C. Mohr during a press conference this afternoon at the Ross County Courthouse in Chillicothe, Mohr's hometown. He is the 11th cabinet nomination so far before Kasich takes office on Monday. Kasich and Mohr pledged that all state decisions involving privatization would publicly bid and transparent and that Mohr would abstain from any decision involving his former employer, Corrections Corporation of America, a private operator. Mohr, 57, worked for three decades in the state prison system, serving as deputy agency director under former Republican Govs. George V. Voinovich and Bob Taft. Mohr also held a variety of other positions, including as a warden in Chillicothe and two other facilities and both deputy director and superintendent of the Department of Youth Services. From 2007-09, Mohr was a managing director for Nashville-based CCA which owns and operates a private prison in Youngstown that houses federal inmates. The company runs 60 prison facilities housing 75,000 inmates in 18 states and the District of Columbia. Mohr currently is chief executive of the consulting company, Mohr Correctional Insight, which has mostly worked with CCA, including instituting a new management system for prison staffing. He has been in that position since 2009 after earlier serving from 2005-07.

June 10, 2010 10 TV
Ohio prisons could soon become corporations if lawmakers pass a bill that would privatize up to half of the state's correctional facilities. An e-mail sent by the Ernie Moore, the director of Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, warned workers of the possibility, 10 Investigates' Paul Aker reported on Thursday. Supporters of the bill said privatizing prisons could save tax dollars, but the prison system's union employees worry it means they will be out of work. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association posted the news on its Web site and is planning for a statehouse battle. "They're worried about, of course, the privatization of their jobs," said OCSEA Union President Charlie Williamson. The bill asks to study and plan for a hand-over of half of Ohio's prisons in the next couple of years. "We see this as an opportunity to explain what we do and why it's important," Williamson said. Sen. Tim Grendell is co-sponsoring the bill. Grendell said the plan is about cutting costs, not cutting jobs, as lawmakers look for ways to close a looming $8 billion deficit. Grendell said he hopes to hold hearings on the bill by August. Union officials said the two prisons that already are privately run are not saving the state any money, but senate leaders think privatization could save between 10 to 20 percent a year.

January 19, 2003
Ohio's deepening budget problems likely will force the closing of another state prison -- the second in as many years.  The prison to be closed remains undetermined.  Last year, the state shut down the 17-year-old Orient Correctional Institution to save about $19 million a year.  Irwin M. Scharfeld, executive director of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, the union representing prison employees, said the private prisons should go first.  "It's more cost-effective to close the private ones,'' he said. "It can be done almost overnight with less impact to employees.''  (The Columbus Dispatch)

February 9, 2002
Some top Ohio lawmakers went to Washington yesterday to lobby the federal government to turn the soon-to-be-closed Orient Correctional Institution into a federal prison.  Unfortunately for them, the real lobbyist were there first.  The state has competition in its own back yard from the Corrections Corporation of America, which is peddling its shuttered private prison in Youngstown to the federal Bureau of Prisons.  (The Columbus Dispatch)

Prisoner Transportation Services of America
Mar 17, 2017 wkyc.com
Inmate escapes at Cleveland Hopkins Airport car rental facility
CLEVELAND - An inmate escaped at a rental car facility at Cleveland Hopkins Airport after reportedly being left unattended late Wednesday. According to police reports, Wesley Massey, 36, of Meadville, Pennsylvania, reportedly escaped while traveling with a man who works with a private prison transportation company. Massey was wanted on at least one bench warrant after Conneaut Lake Regional Police in Pennsylvania reported he fled before sentencing after facing several theft and fraud charges. Police said Massey was accused of making more than $40,000 in purchases on a company credit card. Authorities said he was being transported from Florida to Cleveland, and was then to be transported by vehicle to his final destination. The man working with the prison transportation company reported he was at an Enterprise counter inside the car rental facility at the airport when Massey asked to use the restroom. The man said he left Massey unattended for a couple of minutes to return to the counter. When he went to check on Massey, he wasn’t in the restroom. Reports stated Massey left the facility and immediately went to the employee parking lot adjacent to the rental car facility, and stole a grey 2013 Volkswagen Passat. Hertz managers at the car rental facility tell WKYC Channel 3 News that the stolen vehicle belonged to an employee who reportedly left the vehicle running before preparing to leave for the night. The man transporting the inmate told officials that Massey was handcuffed with shackles attached to his waist. Massey fled in the car, but was later stopped by Pennsylvania police. Police said he ignored verbal commands from officers and fled once again. Officers reported Massey was speeding on I-90 in Pennsylvania, hitting about 100 mph. Massey was eventually stopped by spike strips in Girard County. He is now facing additional charges including fleeing and eluding police and receiving stolen property. He was booked into Erie County Prison.

Queensgate Jail
Hamilton County, Ohio
CCA

December 24, 2008 Business Courier of Cincinnati
The Tennessee company that owns the Queensgate jail is trying to maintain its lease with the Hamilton County, a move that could inflate rental costs for a facility shut down in a budget-cutting move. The 822-bed jail, closed by Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis on Dec. 19, is owned by Nashville-based Community Corrections Corp. of America. It signed a two-year lease extension in 2007 that requires the county to pay about $190,000 in monthly rent. Hamilton County officials have complained for years about the condition of the building. That’s why the lease includes provisions to let the county out of its contract if neither party is willing to make necessary repairs, said Jeffrey Aluotto, assistant Hamilton County administrator. “Both parties understood and recognized the significant repairs that were necessary on that facility,” Alluoto said. “If neither party elects to make the repairs, the lease terminates. It’s really that simple.” In late November, the county sent CCA a list of repairs, including a roof replacement, new hot water systems, an emergency power generator and heating and air conditioning improvements. On Dec. 10, CCA sent a letter to Hamilton County Administrator Patrick Thompson that it was willing to make some, but not all of the repairs. CCA estimated the repairs would cost $4.5 million. On Dec. 16, Thompson notified CCA that the county would vacate the building, terminating the lease sometime in the next 90 days. A spokesman for CCA said the company is working on a response to the county’s latest letter, but that response will not include CCA’s agreement that the contract is over. “It certainly would be our goal for the lease to continue,” said spokesman Steve Owen. “We’re still going through their list and working on a way to address their concerns.”

December 21, 2008 AP
One of Hamilton County's four jails has shut its doors because of budget cuts, the first time a jail has closed in the county without a new one in line to take its place. The closing Friday came as state officials consider ways to shrink the state prison population in light of a projected $7 billion state budget deficit over the next two years. Jails and prisons represent a large portion of both local government and state budgets. Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis and other county officials said there is simply no money to keep the 822-bed Queensgate jail -- which houses low- and medium-security prisoners -- open. The jail closed quietly Friday, as the last dozen or so inmates were led out to black sheriff's office vans and taken to other county jails. About 70 to 80 inmates had been at the jail Friday morning. There were no signs or announcements. Two people who had come to visit inmates found the door locked and the building empty.

December 16, 2008 Cincinnati Enquirer
For the first time in memory, Hamilton County will be closing a jail without opening a new one to replace it. Hamilton County commissioners are expected to pass a 2009 budget Wednesday night, and neither the three commissioners nor the county sheriff have found the $10 million needed to keep the 800-bed Queensgate jail open. That means the proposed closure is real. The county's second-largest jail will likely close by the end of the year. The sheriff has been releasing inmates early, refusing admissions and delaying sentences to cut the population. As of early Monday, the inmate count for the Queensgate jail stood at 212. The closure leaves many concerned about public safety. "If there's one less option available ... there certainly will be instances where there's a recurrence of a crime," said Hamilton County Municipal Judge Fanon Rucker. The sheriff's office stressed that serious felons and violent offenders will remain locked up. But with fewer jail beds, the profiles of those being released early or turned away will get worse. "We've dipped into people with violent histories, even if they aren't here on a violent crime," said sheriff's spokesman Steve Barnett. The cut is the product of the worst county budget crisis in memory, caused by an economic slowdown that devastated major revenue sources. The jail closing might be the most high-profile cut. Other potential public safety cuts, such as funding for township patrols, are still being discussed. The budget also will include hundreds of job cuts, closing two of the clerk of courts' satellite offices, and possible reduction of operating hours for the Recorder's Office. It also cuts the Juvenile Court budget which likely will mean the closure of 20 beds in the juvenile detention center known as "2020" because of its address at 2020 Auburn Ave. in Mount Auburn. The Queensgate jail is a converted warehouse that opened in 1992 as a temporary solution to jail crowding. It houses lower-level offenders such those convicted of drunken driving, theft or other misdemeanor crimes. A breakdown of charges for inmates there was not available Monday. The county leases the building from Corrections Corp. of America.

September 12, 2007 City Beat
It's rare to find a local issue so volatile that it not only pits Republicans against Republicans and Democrats against Democrats but also forges an unusual alliance between conservative and liberal groups who otherwise wouldn't even talk to each other, much less cooperate on a political campaign. The controversy over increasing Hamilton County's sales tax to build a new jail has accomplished that unusual feat and this one: allegations that no-nonsense Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. might have broken state election laws in his vigorous lobbying for the tax hike... Beginning last year, Heimlich and DeWine cut a deal with Butler County to house up to 400 prisoners there at a cost of $55 per prisoner each day. The deal mostly ended early releases until Hamilton County officials settled on a plan to build a new jail, but critics call it an expensive option that cannot be used indefinitely. Although the latest proposal would build an 1,800-bed jail, the net increase in new space is 784 beds because the county would close an aging facility it rents in Queensgate as well as shuttering its Reading Road and Turning Point jail facilities to save money by consolidating operations. By consolidating the facilities, the county's jail consultants say it would save about $7.5 million annually or roughly $225 million over a 30-year period. The Queensgate facility has been criticized for not meeting contemporary jail standards. Prisoners are kept in an open area on cots on each of the building's levels. Leis and other county officials say the design poses a security threat and is dangerous for both prisoners and deputies. When Hamilton County began using the Queensgate space in the mid-1990s, state corrections officials allowed the arrangement only because it was supposed to be temporary and close in 1999. Sales tax opponents criticize Leis for not letting them tour the facility to see conditions firsthand. Moreover, they say the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction inspects the facility each year, most recently in February, and found it met all 62 minimum standards set for jails. Mike Sieving, Hamilton County's construction project executive, says the Queensgate facility isn't structurally sound and it would take about $44 million to correct the problems. The county rents the facility from the Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), which has been reluctant to make any improvements on its own. "The cost to make those repairs would actually be double that, because we'd have to finance them, and we still wouldn't own the building," Sieving says. Also, Ohio corrections officials have classified Queensgate only as a minimum-security facility, but Hamilton County has housed medium- and maximum-security prisoners there because of the space crunch. "When the state evaluates Queensgate, they assume they will all be minimum-security folks kept there," Sieving says. "The standards require that they be segregated from everyone else, but we have to put them where we can." The Queensgate building, which is about a century old, has bowing walls that have no insulation or waterproofing. Sewers routinely back up and overflow when there is rainy weather, and the foundation is cracked. Additionally, Queensgate has older-style magnetized door locks that would fail if there ever were a total electrical blackout, which officials fear could occur due to the facility's aging generators. Hamilton County pays $2.2 million annually to CCA to use the site, an amount that typically increases by about 4 percent per year. "If the sales tax is voted down, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel to negotiate a new lease," Sieving says. "They would know this is our only option."

March 26, 2007 WLWT
County commissioners cannot count on the existing jail as a temporary solution while a new jail is built, the facility’s owner said. County Commissioner Pat DeWine had proposed using the Queensgate jail for another 10 or 15 years, but the jail’s owner requested in an e-mail Monday that the building be removed from consideration. The Queensgate jail is inside a warehouse that is more than 100 years old and is operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

SEPTA Correctional Facility
Jun 3, 2017 bc6onyourside.com
Documents reveal security concerns prior to seven escapes at correctional facility
An inmate who was only at a private prison for a week, managed to escape making him the seventh person to get out in the last nine months. Razor wire sits in spools outside SEPTA Correctional Facility in Nelsonville, while deputies search for Richard Rush III. Upgrades were planned for the facility but had not been completed before Wednesday night’s most recent escape, according to the program’s director. “We will not be armed in this facility,” director Scott Weaver said. “It’s not the intent although we’re labeled as a correctional facility, our intent is to integrate the inmates back into society.” Weaver said Rush was is the facility for drug-related charges and was in the recreational yard Wednesday on the second tier, when he climbed the fence and took off. Since September, reports show at least six other inmates escaped from the facility since September. The facility considers the inmates low-level offenders. The state does not operate the facility, however, SEPTA requested a security assessment in April following more inmate escapes. ABC 6 On Your Side Investigates was told details and recommendations are not public since it’s security information. However, those recommendations are being implemented now, according to facility staff. It was said more staffing, lights and cameras are being added. ABC 6 On Your Side Investigates obtained the most recent August 2015 audit report on SEPTA by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. It noted several areas SEPTA could improve its operations, including: Provide at least 40 hours of structured activity for each inmate every week. Separate low-risk from high-risk offenders in treatment groups to avoid negative influence on low-risk offenders. Limit groups size to 12 for treatment because in many cases there were 20 inmates to one facilitator. Director should better supervise staff and provide training and feedback on a routine basis. To avoid future overspending like in 2015, it’s suggested treatment programs avoid oversights. Surveillance of inmates, especially those deemed suicidal, assault or an escape risk, SEPTA was considered “compliant,” according to the 2015 audit. That requires inmates be checked upon every 20 minutes. Additional security improvements, while they aren’t being discussed, Weaver said are in the works right now.

Summit County Justice Center
Summit County, Ohio
Oriana House
November 25, 2003
Summit County's common pleas judges need to get a grip on, and provide more control over, the Community Based Correctional Facility that it created 16 years ago, according to a performance audit to be released today by State Auditor Betty Montgomery.  And because CBCF Director James Lawrence is also the president of Oriana House -- the private, nonprofit corporation the county hired to run the facility -- Montgomery referred the matter to the Ohio Ethics Commission for review.  Under such an arrangement, the audit said, ``the director is required to oversee the financial activities of his own corporation,'' presenting a potential conflict of interest.  ``In terms of fulfilling its mission, Oriana House and Summit CBCF appear to get the job done,'' Montgomery said, ``but we have grave concerns about the lack of checks and balances in the way the program is governed.''  The audit is the latest turn in a continuing fracas over the county's alternative jail program and the larger corporation that runs it.  Both the privately run alternative jail and its parent company, Oriana House Inc., have been under the direction of Lawrence since it was established in 1987.  As the county's sole private contractor for alternative jail services, Oriana has been under increasing scrutiny during the past several years for receiving more than $60 million in unbid county contracts.  Among a raft of recommendations to be made today by Montgomery's office are tighter reins on costs, regular competitive bidding and stronger oversight by the Judicial Corrections Board, which is made up of the county's judges.  (Ohio.com)

September 24, 2003
Nobody expected Betty Montgomery's special audit of Oriana House to proceed without friction. The state auditor, a possible Republican candidate for governor in 2006, has close ties to Alex Arshinkoff, the Summit County Republican Party chairman, who has long questioned operations at Oriana House.  James Lawrence, the Oriana House president, also has political connections, and he isn't shy about using them. Lawrence often plays both sides of the aisle with his contributions. Locally, he has been close to Wayne Jones, the Summit County Democratic Party finance chairman.  Even so, Montgomery's special audit, announced early this year, appeared to be going smoothly -- until early September, when she went after the financial records of Correctional Health Services Inc. Correctional Health is a wholly owned, for-profit subsidiary of the nonprofit Oriana House. Lawrence moved to block the search, filing suit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.  To make a credible assessment of Oriana House, Montgomery must follow the public money. Oriana House has received more than $60 million as the sole provider of alternative jail services to Summit County with no competition and, until recently, too little financial oversight.  In this situation, the relationships are clear and direct. Oriana House and Correctional Health are both headed by Lawrence. They share the same address. Oriana House receives tax dollars to operate; Correctional Health supplies services for and leases space and other property to Oriana House.  (The Beacon Journal)

Tom Eberly worked for Summit County for only eight months before he was fired, but that was enough time to step on some powerful toes. The trouble started when a consultant issued a damning report about Summit County's Criminal Justice system. The report had been a year in the making and cost taxpayers $195,500, so Eberly--the county's new fresh-faced, 35-year-old criminal justice coordinator--naturally saw as his job to pursue some of the report's ideas. But those changes would have diminished the flow of government contracts and power enjoyed by Oriana House, a company that has grown to become the largest private player in the county's corrections system. The company had resisted changes to its multimillion-dollar contracts before, and would resist Eberly, too. Oriana House's president has given more than $100,000 to Ohio politicians in the past six years, and the single biggest recipient was Eberly's then-boss, County Executive Tim Davis. Before long, Eberly was out the door. County leaders are poised to ignore the advice of their own consultant and hand Oriana House $4.8 million in new contracts Tuesday--once again without competitive bidding. Normally, that would be illegal, but in 1999 a powerful state senator -- the now retired Roy Ray, who had received campaign contributions, too--pushed through a special provision tailored specifically for Oriana House making the bids unnecessary. Until recently, the county had commissioned an outside audit only once to ensure Oriana House is meeting the terms of its contracts--and hired Oriana House's own accounting firm to do the work. So county officials commissioned a third study. This time, they hired Alan Kalmanoff, director of the Institute for Law and Policy Planning in Berkeley, California. Kalmanoff issued a report that lambasted county officials for allowing Oriana House to take over the criminal justice system. He described a "lavish" community corrections system, a county executive with "inadequate control" and "inappropriate" no-bid contracts. Kalmanff's unusually strongly worded report hinted at quid-pro-quo political contributions and patronage, but even he may not have realized the extent. While Oriana House's fortunes flourished Lawrence regularly attended campaign fund-raiser and emerged as a top political giver. Lawrence also became an influential supporter of key state lobbyists, including the brother of Ohio Auditor Jim Petro. In all, Lawrence contributed more than $100,000  during the past six years to local, state, and federal campaigns, most of it in Summit County. Locally, the top recipients were Davis, former Sheriff Richard Warren and Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, all Democrats.

Summit County Jail
Summit, Ohio
Prison Health Services

March 25, 2004
A woman who works as a registered nurse at the Summit County Jail now finds herself behind bars.  Akron resident Mary M. Gatskie, 57, was charged Tuesday with one felony count of theft of dangerous drugs after Summit County sheriff's detectives received a tip that she had taken drugs from the jail.  When investigators went to the woman's Sunset Avenue home Tuesday to question her, Lt. John Karabatsos said, they saw a pill bottle with another person's name on it in her kitchen.  After being questioned about the bottle, Gatskie admitted taking the drugs from the jail, Karabatsos said.  A subsequent search uncovered a variety of other drugs, including ones prescribed to inmates for mental health reasons. ``These drugs were intended for inmates,'' Karabatsos said.  Gatskie is not a county employee, but works for Prison Health Services, which is under contract to provide medical services to inmates. She has worked at the jail for about two years.  Karabatsos said that Gatskie, as a regular worker at the jail, was not patted down for drugs, but was checked daily for concealed weapons.  A Summit County grand jury could add charges, Karabatsos said.  (Beacon Journal)

Trumbell County Jail
Trumbell, Ohio
Acme Steak Co.

January 6, 2003
Food costs for the Trumbull County Jail dropped by about 27 percent the first full month since officials made the switch from a no-bid agreement with a Youngstown company to the state purchasing program.  The drop came despite the addition of about 4,000 meals in December than the previous month, as the jail kitchen started dishing up meals for inmates at the juvenile center.  "I'm very happy about it," said Ernie Cook, chief deputy of the sheriff's department, which runs the adult jail.  He estimated that by using state purchasing instead of Acme Steak Co., taxpayers will save about $32,000 a year.  (The Vindicator)