The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 13, 2012

Prison’s make-up exam results may be known this week

Star Beacon

— Results from last week’s state re-inspection of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution could be known within days, state officials said.

Examiners from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections spent Wednesday and Thursday inside the Conneaut prison, conducting a follow-up audit to the September inspection that uncovered many deficiencies.

A report on the audit results could be received this week, said JoEllen Smith, ODRC spokeswoman in Columbus.

Two months ago, state personnel discovered numerous problems with the prison, owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America, based in Nashville, Tenn. Dozens of problems were detected, ranging from the cleanliness of bedding and cookware to issues with door keys, documentation and employee training on the state standards the prison must meet.

Asked for comment on the state’s re-inspection, a CCA official indicated the company was optimistic the prison would fare much better on its second go-around.

CCA has been working in close partnership with our government partners to take concrete, corrective steps to ensure (LaECI) meets not only the ODRC's goals but our own high expectations for our facilities,” Steven Owen, senior director of public affairs, said in a email message. “We are encouraged by the progress that has been made to date and look forward to the state's final report.”

CCA purchased the prison for $72.7 million in 2011 and took possession at the start of 2012. The state pays CCA a stipend for every inmate it houses.

Experts have said the transaction marked the first time a state-built prison was sold to a private security company.

The minimum/medium security prison contains up to 1,800 inmates. It opened in 2000 as Ohio’s first privately managed state prison. Management and Training Corporation operated the prison through 2011 and submitted a bid to buy the facility that was ultimately rejected by the ODNR.