Kasich Sells Public Prison to Private Institution
Governor John Kasich’s decision to sell the prison comes a day after common pleas judge Pat Sheeran ruled against ProgressOhio, a liberal advocacy group that was staunchly opposed to the privatization of more Ohio prisons. The judge ruled in favor of allowing Kasich to move forward with the measure, but put a caveat on the ruling. He stipulated that he would rule again on the issue September 13, deciding whether there should be a referendum on the ballot in the fall. This decision would put the issue in Kasich’s constituents’ hands.
Alan Johnson, staff writer for The Columbus Dispatch, said Kasich had a plan in place that would give the private prison contractor 120 days to begin operating three Ohio prisons by January 1, 2012.
The DRC has announced that they will turn the North Coast Correctional Facility into a state-run operation, while merging it with the Grafton Correctional Institute. The state is expected to save $7 million on the deal.
CCA, the winning contractor for the Erie Institute, brought in a profit of $1.675 billion in 2010, making it the largest private prison contractor in the US. Kasich tapped Gary Mohr to be the director of the DRC. Gary Mohr previously was the Managing Director for CCA last year.
Kasich’s office did not respond for comment, but Mohr released a statement after the news was announced Thursday morning.
“The safety of prison staff and effective rehabilitation programs are the top priority,” he said.
State Senator Troy Balderson of Athens County said that he supported prison privatization from an economic standpoint, but didn’t know enough about the particulars.
Progressive groups have been critical of the private prison system because it is inherently a for-profit system. The more inmates, and the longer they stay in prison, means more taxpayer money goes toward the contractors. The Centre for Research on Globalization found that CCA inmates received less prison time for good deeds such as avoiding fights and obedience, and received extra time for the opposite.
Inmates in CCA prisons lost “good behavior time” at a rate eight times higher than those in state prisons.
Former Governor Ted Strickland, while he was in the Ohio House of Representatives, proposed legislation to ban privatization of Ohio prisons permanently. The measure was shot down.
Governors nationwide are looking at austerity and privatization as the way to close the massive budget shortfalls that plague statehouses.. It is unclear whether Kasich will go forward with the privatizing of the prison system as he previously claimed in his 2011 budget.