The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

January 31, 2013

Inmates transferred to state prison after fight at Conneaut facility

Fighting that erupted over the weekend at the privately owned Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut resulted in dozens of inmates being transferred to a state-owned prison in Mansfield.

Late Friday night into Saturday morning, the private prison staff “used non-lethal force to quell the fighting and quickly gain control,” according to a statement. Minutes later, another fight broke out in different housing unit, but was also brought under control. Several inmates, reportedly as many as three dozen, were “identified as participants in the fighting.” One inmate was taken to a local hospital for treatment of a broken leg after being forced to the ground by a corrections officer.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections and the Ohio State Patrol were notified and are investigating.

Following the incidents, records obtained by The Dispatch show 39 inmates were transferred to the Mansfield Correctional Institution, a state prison in Richland County.

The Lake Erie facility was sold last year to Corrections Corporation of America, a private business headquartered in Nashville, Tenn.

Officials with the Ohio Civil Service Association, the labor union representing state prison employees, said they have long been concerned about problems at the Lake Erie facility and lack of transparency in reporting incidents.

“This isn’t about unions. This isn’t about trying to blame someone. This is about the safety of the employees,” said Tim Shafer, OCSEA operations director and a former corrections officer. Shafer said the violent inmates “become the taxpayers’ problem” once they are transferred to a state facility.

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