“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.”
According to the news release from the offices of Lundy and Weddingon, the CIIC’s recent quarterly report for 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.
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or email@example.com.