Politics

Ohio Sells Prison to Company, Should Jails be Run by Corporations?

| by Michael Allen

Ohio officials have sold the taxpayer-funded Lake Erie Correctional Institution, an 11-year-old jail housing about 1,500 nonviolent prisoners, to the Corrections Corporation of America for $72.7 million.

The state will now pay Corrections Corporation of America to run the facility, which will supposedly save 8% of the current cost.

Carlo LoParo, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, told Reuters that the state of Ohio would pay CCA a payment of $44.25 for each inmate at the Lake Erie prison. He said CCA's operating costs would be eight percent less than estimated state operational costs, generating a projected $3 million in annual savings.

The privatization of state facilities is part of Republican Governor John Kasich's plan to shrink government and close the state's budget shortfall.

Ohio wanted to sell five prisons, for as $200 million, in the privatization process. But the bids on the other four facilities fell short of the state's hopes and will remain in government hands for now.

Last week, ProgressOhio, a liberal policy group, sued to block the privatizations, claiming the sales were unconstitutional. A hearing in the case is scheduled for later this month, however, the judge declined to impose a temporary restraining order on the sale.

One of the major things to consider: Who has oversight of the prison? Who is making sure there isn't abuse or crimes being committed inside the prison walls?