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Ohio will not sell five prisons as planned, sells only one and reorganizes others

Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s administration will not sell five of the state’s prisons as previously intended, the state’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Gary Mohr told reporters on Thursday. The Dayton Daily News reports:

…in the end, state officials decided the taxpayers would get a better deal to go this route: sell the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut for $72.7 million to Corrections Corporation of America, which will be paid to house state inmates there; hire Management & Training Corp to operate the North Central Correctional Institution and operate the now-closed Marion Juvenile Facility as an adult prison camp.

State officials from the departments of budget, prisons and administrative services decided to merge Grafton Correctional Institution and North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton and run it with state workers.

The president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, which represents the state’s prison guards, said that he was surprised and pleased at the news, but that he was concerned about the employees of the prisons now under private control: ”A lot of the private-sector employees have lesser wages, lesser benefits.”

Kasich (R) had originally envisioned a $200 million sale, which ultimately turned out to be unattainable. But Mohr’s department claims to have saved $13 million through the reorganization, while simultaneously adding 700 beds to the system.

Mohr previously worked for the Corrections Corporation of America before being hired by the state, and he says that he distanced himself from the selection process for the sale in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety. He says that the Conneaut sale is the first privatization of a state-built prison in America.

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