COLUMBUS—Today, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled 5-2 that the sale of Lake Erie Correctional Institution did not violate the state Constitution. The prison was sold in 2011 to Corrections Corporation of America for over $72 million. In 2015, the state authorized the sale of North Central Correctional Institution in Marion. This sale is still pending.

“Lake Erie Correctional Institution’s sale is a cautionary tale to those who believe that prison privatization is the answer to our over-incarceration problems,” said ACLU of Ohio Senior Policy Director Mike Brickner. “From the moment the prison was sold, it descended into chaos that lasted two years. Prisoners were forced to use plastic bags to defecate in their cells, drugs were rampant throughout the prison, and violence escalating to dangerous levels. As Ohio is planning the sale of another prison, we must not allow the terrible problems that happened before to repeat themselves.”

North Central Correctional Institution is currently privately operated by Management and Training Corporation, but was authorized to be sold by the Ohio General Assembly in 2015. Lake Erie Correctional Institution was also privately managed by MTC prior to its sale in 2011.

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“The track record of prison privatization in Ohio shows that the problems at Lake Erie Correction Institution are not isolated. In the 1990s, the disastrous privatization of the Youngstown federal prison saw multiple escapes and serious violence. In late 2014, the federal Bureau of prisons finally cancelled its contract at that facility.

“In recent years, privatized food vendors have served meals tainted with maggots and had dozens of their staff banned from Ohio prisons for sneaking in contraband and engaging in inappropriate relationships with prisoners. Has the private prison industry given Ohio taxpayers any reason to believe this time will be different?”