Operator of Youngstown prison cited for violations at Conneaut lock-up
The operator of the nation’s first privately owned state prison is working to correct dozens of safety, health and security issues uncovered in a recent audit.
Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown, has been firmly rebuked by Ohio officials for conditions identified at Lake Erie Correctional Facility, in Conneaut during the September management review.
The audit report said cells were dirty, inmates lacked clean laundry, and blankets and sometimes beds, pots and pans weren’t clean. It said doors were standing open, and the whereabouts of some keys was unclear.
Auditors also found black spots and mildew in showers, an unmarked urine specimen on a desk and backed-up or inoperable water fountains. The report said inmates operated a meat slicer with no safety guards and feeding lines took several hours.
“Let me just say that these audit results are unacceptable and CCA knows how strongly Ohio believes that,” said JoEllen Culp, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. “It’s not unusual for a management change to create issues, we understand that, but these results go beyond that, and they’ve been made aware that Ohio will not tolerate them.”
CCA purchased the prison from the ODRC in a deal worth $72.7 million.
CCA has built a 30-year reputation on “not just meeting but exceeding the expectations of our government partners, and we take it very seriously when we do not meet those expectations,” spokesman Steve Owen said.
The company is taking corrective steps to ensure the facility meets state and national standards and will meet regularly with ODRC staff and officials, he said.