COLUMBUS — Selling off five state prisons, shutting two other prisons, and revamping Ohio’s criminal sentencing laws are avenues that Republican Gov. John Kasich is expected to pursue as a way to squeeze costs out of Ohio’s prison system. Kasich declined to discuss information obtained by the Dayton Daily News that says his budget will call for selling prisons and contracting with private owners to house inmates….The basic premise of reform is that many offenders could be handled in community-based settings for less money and then expensive prison beds could be saved for the most violent, predatory criminals. A nonpartisan fiscal analysis of pending legislation estimates the reforms could save $24.9 million a year in incarceration costs and eliminate the need for 3,528 prison beds by 2015. It is unclear whether Kasich will roll these changes into his budget bill or propose his own reforms. Ohio spends $1.99 billion a year to lock up 51,163 inmates in 31 adult prisons and five youth facilities. The adult system is at 133 percent of capacity….
…Kasich is also expected to wring costs out of the prison system by selling facilities and contracting with the new owners to house inmates in them…The menu of changes would generate $200 million in up-front cash and save $2.85 million in operational costs over two years, the information said. Roughly 800 state employees at two of the prisons up for sale would either apply for jobs with the new owner, bump to posts elsewhere in state government or walk away….The three biggest players in the private prison industry are The GEO Group in Florida, M&TC, and Corrections Corp. of America in Tennessee. Current state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Gary Mohr worked for CCA after retiring from the state prison system. Each of these three big contractors hired well-connected Ohio lobbyists. In CCA’s corner is Donald Thibaut, who served as Kasich’s congressional chief of staff for nearly 20 years and worked on his campaign. And The GEO Group engaged Doug Preisse and Robert Klaffky, both of whom served as Kasich’s political advisors.
– State Rep. Matt Lundy questions prison board head’s links
Source: Cindy Leise, Chronicle Telegram, March 18th, 2011
– Marion correction workers picket against prison privatization / Safety a top concern
Source: John Jarvis, Marion Star, June 14, 2011