CLEVELAND- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio renewed its concerns over the state’s plan to sell and privatize state prisons. Today, officials with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections announced that they would only sell one facility, privatize two others, and regain state control over one privately operated prison. The ODRC stated it would not sell all five prisons because the bids were not economically beneficial for taxpayers.
“These changes are nothing more than a band-aid for the deep-seated problems that continue to plague our state,” said ACLU of Ohio Policy Director Shakyra Diaz. “The root problem in Ohio’s prison system is that far too many people are being incarcerated. Privatization does nothing to address it, and may actually make it worse by allowing companies to make a profit off imprisoning people.”
According to the ODRC’s statement, Lake Erie Correctional Facility will be sold for $72.7 million, while the state will save $6 million annually from privatizing LECF and North Central Correctional Facility. In addition, the state will save $7 million from combining operations at Northcoast Correctional Treatment Facility and Grafton Correctional Facility. The state will also add additional beds at LECF and through reopening the Marion Juvenile Facility as an adult prison.
“The state’s decision not to sell five prisons to private companies underscores what advocates have said for years—these schemes are not beneficial for taxpayers,” said Communications & Public Policy Director Mike Brickner. “Even by their own figures, prison officials will yield more annual savings from reorganizing operations than privatization. While the state is providing more beds, the nature of the private prison companies will ensure they are filled to maximize profit.”
In April 2011, the ACLU of Ohio released Prisons for Profit: A Look at Prison Privatization. According to the ACLU’s report, several studies have shown that prison privatization yields little or no cost savings to the state. In addition, the ACLU outlined several stories from states ranging from Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Texas that encountered serious cost and public safety problems after privatizing their prison systems. The Arizona legislature has also conducted reports showing privatization has increased the size of the corrections system, and the state paid more for inmates housed in private facilities than public ones in some instances.
“Privatization has far too many risks to outweigh any possible benefit. Although state officials have scaled back the number of planned private prisons, they should eliminate them altogether and work to keep more people out of prison in the first place,” added Diaz.