The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 28, 2013

LaECI’s new warden happy with new role

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

LAS ANIMAS, COLO. — The third warden in the history of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution is looking forward to swapping the Colorado prairie for the Lake Erie shoreline.

Brigham Sloan, who officially takes command of the LaECI on Monday, on Wednesday said glimpses of Conneaut he’s seen on the Internet have excited his family.

“I love the size of the town,” he said. “It sure looks pretty.”

Sloan, 43, comes to Ohio’s North Coast from Las Animas, Colo., found in the southeast corner of the state and home to Bent County Correctional Facility, where he has served as warden the past six years.

The new assignment puts Sloan closer to family in northeast Ohio and Pennsylvania, he said.

“It’s an opportunity that’s exciting to me,” he said.

Sloan will replace Barry Goodrich, who has worked at LaECI since January 2012, the date it was acquired by Corrections Corporation of America. The Bent County prison is also owned by CCA.

Coincidentally, the wardens are swapping jobs — Goodrich will fill Sloan’s seat at Bent County early next month. Goodrich will stay in Conneaut a week or two to help Sloan with the transition.

Sloan has been with CCA since 1996, and most of those years have been spent in Colorado. He was appointed assistant warden at Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington in 2001 before going to Bent County.

Sloan is coming to a prison with a slightly larger inmate population. Bent County has nearly 1,500 beds, compared to almost 1,800 at LaECI. Both prisons also house state inmates at the medium-security level.

“It’s a similar type of inmate,” Sloan said.

He is acquainted with Goodrich when both worked at CCA prisons in Colorado.

Bent County was acquired by CCA in 1996, while the Conneaut prison — which opened 13 years ago  — became CCA property 15 months ago. The transition from state-built/privately-managed to privately-owned prison has been troublesome at times. Problems detected by state inspectors over the past several months have generated media attention and condemnation from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union.

Sloan declined to discuss the situation at LaECI until he had a chance to investigate.

“I’d like to get my feet on the ground,” he said. “I want to meet the people and speak to staff. We’re going to build on the recent successes achieved (at LaECI).”

Much of next week will be spent getting acclimated to the area, Sloan said. An open house to introduce him to the community will be held 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday at the prison.

Sloan, married 22 years, has a son in college and a daughter who will enter high school in the fall. Sloan said he is looking forward to calling Conneaut home for many years.

“I’ve always tried to be part of the community,” he said. “I would like this to be a long-term stop for me.”