The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

March 27, 2013

LaECI to get new warden

Barry Goodrich leaves Conneaut after 15 months

CONNEAUT — Conneaut’s privately-owned prison is getting a new boss, Corrections Corporation of America announced Tuesday.

Barry Goodrich, warden since CCA took possession of the ex-state prison in January 2012, is involved in a job switch that takes effect next week. He will oversee the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas, Colo., while BCCF’s former boss, Brigham Sloan, is coming to Conneaut.

The public will have a chance to meet Sloan during an open house at the prison between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. April 3, officials said.

“We are excited to have Brigham Sloan join the management team at Lake Erie,” Daren Swenson, CCA vice-president of operations, said in a statement. “Throughout his 17-year career with CCA, Warden Sloan has demonstrated a commitment to operational quality and strong community service.”

Sloan’s mission will be to “build on recent operational successes achieved under Warden Goodrich’s tenure,” according to the statement. He will also expand the prison’s “community outreach initiatives,” according to the statement.

Goodrich is only the second warden LaECI has seen since it opened nearly 13 years ago, and the first since it was sold by the state and became a for-profit business 15 months ago.

In a brief interview Tuesday, Goodrich indicated family considerations prompted him to relocate. Goodrich’s daughter lives in Nebraska and his wife has roots in Kansas, he said.

“Colorado is right in-between,” he said.

Goodrich said he enjoyed his time in Conneaut and “the people of the community.” He said the prison’s transition from state-to-privately owned was “historic” and made for a challenging transition.

“I believe we have accomplished most of the goals we had in place for the prison,” he said.

City Manager Tim Eggleston was away from his office Tuesday and unavailable for comment. City Council President Thomas Udell could not be reached for comment. Pollice Chief Charles Burlingham said he had a “good working relationship” with Goodrich.

CCA has seen a bumpy start to its ownership of the Conneaut prison. A state inspection in September revealed dozens of deficiencies, although nearly all had been addressed by the time a follow-up exam was conducted a few weeks later. In November, an inmate died of a heroin overdose, a death still being investigated by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

LaECI received American Correctional Association accreditation in January, but the new year also saw a flurry of contraband-smuggling incidents that put a spotlight on the prison’s perimeter security. Attention paid the prison’s security issues prompted a surprise inspection by the state that revealed a jump in the number of disturbances inside the prison and a high presence of gang activity. On the plus side, the prison got good marks in cleanliness, food and other categories.

Sloan joined CCA in 1996, according to a statement. His most recent assignment, BCCF, is a medium-security prison with 1,466 beds, compared to the minimum/medium status at LaECI and nearly 1,800 beds — 300 of them added after CCA took possession.

Like Conneaut, Bent County houses state inmates, according to the web site.

LaECI opened in April 2012 as an experiment. At the time, it was Ohio’s first state-owned but privately-mananged prison, operated by Management and Training Corp., of Utah. MTC bid on the Conneaut prison when it was put on the block but lost to rival CCA.

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