Conneaut Officials Ask State for Help After Increase in Crime Around CCA-Owned Private Prison

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
January 11, 2013 2:09 pm

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Burdening Local Law Enforcement with Increased Criminal Activity is a Familiar Pattern for Private Prison Companies

CONNEAUT, OH – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio again called on the state to intervene at Correction Corporation of America’s (CCA) privately owned Lake Erie Correctional Institution (LaECI). The ACLU noted increasing reports of rampant smuggling activity around the private prison’s perimeter, requiring Conneaut Police Department officials to take action. Conneaut officials have expressed concern that increased patrols have strained the resources of local law enforcement, which prompted one local official to ask for state assistance.

“Unfortunately, this is a predictable pattern with private prisons,” said ACLU Director of Communications and Public Policy Mike Brickner. “Promises of lower costs quickly morph into higher crime, increased burdens on local law enforcement, and in the end, a higher bill for taxpayers. Unfortunately, it is the people of Conneaut who suffer—with increased crime and more resources redirected from protecting citizens to patrolling CCA’s poorly run private prison.”

In September, auditors found dozens of safety, health, and security issues at LaECI. Then in November, an inmate was found dead in the facility, likely of a drug overdose from contraband that was illegally smuggled into the facility. Now Conneaut City Councilman Neil LaRusch has sent a letter to the state, sounding the alarm about the “drastic rise” in criminal activity around the facility since CCA took over.

“CCA promised to save Ohio money,” said Brickner. “But taxpayers will likely end up floating the bill for increased state resources that will have to be devoted to Conneaut to assist local law enforcement in dealing with problems that have increased under CCA’s watch.”

“This is not an anomaly,” added Brickner. “It is a predictable pattern. The private prison model is built on profit above all else. These facilities will cut corners and shift responsibility to taxpayers wherever necessary to maximize profits. The state must take action now to address these troubling systemic problems, and should reconsider whether this facility should continue to be privately managed.”

In 2011, the ACLU of Ohio released a report entitled Prisons For Profit: A Look at Prison Privatization. The report details the history of private prisons in America and concludes that they create many long-term problems for state and local governments. In 2012, Ohio became the first state in the nation to sell a state facility to a private prison company when it sold the Lake Erie Correctional Facility to CCA.

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