By Marc Kovac
State prison officials expect to complete the relocation of Ohio’s death row to Chillicothe by the middle of next month, a move they believe will reduce the number of attacks on guards and other inmates.
More than 130 inmates sentenced to death for their crimes will make the trip from prisons in Youngstown and Mansfield to the Chillicothe Correctional institution, located about 50 miles south of Columbus.
Six death-row inmates will remain at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, however.
Four of them — James Were, Keith Lamar, Carlos Sanders and Jason Robb — received death penalties for their roles in a riot and killing of a guard at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
Edward Lang, who assaulted another inmate, and Jason Dean, who assaulted prison staff, also will remain in Youngstown, where they are segregated from other prisoners and spend most of their days in their cells.
Lang was convicted in a drug-related murder of two people in Stark County in 2006. Dean was convicted in a 2005 murder of a youth counselor in Springfield.
In addition, five other death-row inmates are being housed at different facilities.
Donna Marie Roberts of Trumbull County, the lone woman facing execution, is imprisoned at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. She and her boyfriend, Nathaniel Jackson, were convicted in the 2001 murder of Robert’s former husband in Howland Township in Trumbull County, according to documents.
Four other death-row inmates are housed at the state’s long-term medical-care facility due to health issues.
Carlo LoParo, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said the move will open about 300 high-security cells at the Youngstown prison on state Route 616 on the East Side and the Mansfield Correctional Institution for use with violent inmates who have not received death sentences.
Additionally, LoParo said death-row inmates are kept in a more controlled environment and generally are not prone to the types of violent incidents that involve other inmates.
From 2009 to 2010, there were about 5,000 attacks by prisoners against other inmates or prison staff. Of that total, only five involved death row inmates, LoParo said.
“Not only is it a very controlled environment on death row, but death-row inmates have added incentive to demonstrate that they can successfully exist in a general population setting, because they’re trying to make a case [to the judiciary, parole board and governor] for clemency,” LoParo said.