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.

 

Evangelize!
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  • http://twitter.com/Think270 Think.

    Original quote from John Kasich: “There are more privatizations to come,” said the governor at a news conference to discuss his budget. “We don’t want to leave any money on the table.”
    When Johnny is voted out of office in 2014, there will be NO MONEY LEFT ON THE TABLE in Ohio.

  • Kansan

    Kasich is little more than a stooge for the Koch brothers and the for-profit prison industry. CCA has never saved any government, anywhere, any money. It gets contracts thanks to campaign contributions, revolving door rewards for compliant bureaucrats, and flat out lying about their intents.

    Not only that, but I hope someone is looking to see if they’re paying their taxes, as any owner of a business should. They just shafted Cibola county, New Mexico for millions in back taxes and their fight over taxes in Youngstown is legend.

  • dmoore2222

    No surprise here. Kasich has NEVER shown that he is a capable CEO. He thinks his congressional budget cutting experience somehow qualifies him to govern one of the most populous states in the Union. But all he’s done is give away state money to status quo corporations and create a secretive agency (JobsOhio) in the name of making Ohio more “business friendly.” In other words, throw enough manure against the wall in hopes that some of it might stick. He’s way in over his head and his own party knows it. It’s got to be really hard for the to hold their breath this long. He’s gonna get pummeled in 2014.

  • mrgavel

    What would be interesting to know is the number of civil rights lawsuits filed against private prison operators versus the number of such lawsuits filed against government run prisons. My guess is that the privately run prisons have way many more such lawsuits because of the kind of conditions listed in the article.

  • Retrofuturistic

    After privatization screws everything up and extracts all the money, the privatized institutions will then be given back to the taxpayers, who will have to pay even more money to straighten it out. For an asset that they already paid for once.

  • Retrofuturistic

    The Nazis believed in privatization too….

  • Retrofuturistic

    IF there’s an honest election….

  • nowaRINO

    I expect that to be the experience with the Turnpike…we better watch out or the taxpayer will have to ‘buy’ the dang thing back.

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