The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will relocate death row from prisons in Youngstown and Mansfield to a maximum-security section of the Chillicothe Correctional Institution, ODRC announced Monday.
Today 116 death-row inmates are housed at the Ohio State Penitentiary on Youngstown’s East Side, and 29 death row inmates are housed at the Mansfield Correctional Institution. The move of death-row inmates to Chillicothe should be complete in January.
The decision came after a six-week study of the prison system, said Carlo LoParo, ODRC spokesman.
“We’ve been contemplating the move for about six weeks or so,” he said. “The most important [factor] was the realization that by consolidating, we can gain 300 maximum-security cells to manage our most difficult offenders.”
State Corrections Director Gary C. Mohr said the move is intended to help reduce incidents of violence within the state’s prisons. The cells currently used to house death-row inmates in Youngstown and Mansfield will be used to separate the state’s most violent and difficult inmates from the general prison population, Mohr said in a news release.
In 2009 and 2010, the department recorded 5,070 violent incidents throughout its prisons. Although 206 occurred at the Mansfield Correctional Institution and 63 occurred at the Ohio State Penitentiary, only five involved death row inmates.
The 80 correction officers assigned to death row in Youngstown and Mansfield will remain in those locations to manage the incoming high-security inmates, LoParo said.
“Those inmates are separated in every aspect of their incarceration and require much more staff and space,” he said.
“By removing death row from the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, it allows those corrections officers to be redeployed within the facility and bolsters the overall security because now you have more corrections officers managing other violent inmates,” LoParo added.
Also by consolidating death-row inmates in Chillicothe, the security risks associated with transporting death-row inmates long distances the day before a scheduled execution should be eliminated, he said.
Chillicothe is about 40 miles from Lucasville, where death-row executions take place at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
Youngstown is more than 250 miles from Lucasville.
Ohio has 148 death-row inmates. The state’s only female death-row inmate is housed at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. Two death-row inmates with serious medical conditions are housed at the Franklin Medical Center in Columbus. These inmates will remain at the respective facilities.
Since 1885, Ohio has moved death row five times. The state maintained death row at the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus from 1885 to 1972; the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville from 1972 to 1995; and the Mansfield Correctional Institution from 1995 to 2005. In 2005, the state moved death row to Youngstown while keeping inmates on its mental-health caseload in Mansfield.