Lawmakers Call for Gov. Kasich to make Prison Privatization Bids Public

As the plan to privatize and sell five state prisons moves ahead there have been multiple questions and concerns about public safety and conflicts of interest for the Kasich administration. State Reps Matt Lundy and W. Carlton Weddington sent a public records request to the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections and the Governor’s office asking that the bids to privatize five Ohio prisons be made public. Their press release and comments are below.

“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. Kasich rewarding his friends. It is time the veil of secrecy under which the Kasich administration operates is lifted,” said Rep. Lundy.  “Today we call for the Governor to release the bids that CCA, GEO and MTC have submitted. The public deserves to know what price tag has been put on their safety.”

Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and Management and Training Corp. are the three companies that have submitted bids to purchase Ohio’s prisons. Gov. Kasich received contributions for his transition fund of $10,000 each from two of the companies seeking to buy Ohio’s prisons. All three companies hired close Gov. Kasich ties to lobby for their firms’ interest, including Gov. Kasich’s former congressional chief of staff and two political advisors to his gubernatorial campaign.

“I reiterate concerns today over the privatization of five state prisons. The CIIC’s 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. 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,” said Rep. Weddington. 

Currently terms of the bids from CCA, GEO and MTC are secret. There has been ongoing concern about the safety records of for-profit correctional institutions. In 1998, six inmates escaped from a CCA-run prison near Youngstown in broad daylight; five of the six escapees had been imprisoned for murder. Last year CCA, former employer of Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Gary Mohr, earned record profits of $1.7 billion. [Dayton Daily News, 8/8/2011]

The Correctional Institution Inspection Committee’s (CIIC) recent Quarterly Report for the period April 1 through June 30, 2011 contains findings that five prisons are overcrowded at rates of 214 percent at the Lorain facility, 190 percent in Lebanon, and 174 percent at each of the following: the Chillicothe Correctional Institute, the Warren Correctional Institution, and the Ohio Reformatory for Women.  The overall overcrowding rate is 131 percent system-wide.

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