Saturday, January 12, 2013
A spike in criminal activity near a recently privatized Ohio prison prompted calls for state help Friday from the American Civil Liberties Union and local officials.
The ACLU said policing the perimeter of the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut along Lake Erie is overburdening local authorities and creating unsafe conditions. Eight people have been arrested reportedly attempting to get contraband into the facility in the past three days.
“We’ve got people throwing contraband over the fence — issues like that,” said Conneaut City Councilman Neil LaRusch. “They’re bringing crack, they’re bringing marijuana, and they’re driving through our residential areas to do it. They don’t really care about getting caught.”
ACLU spokesman Mike Brickner said the group has documented a similar pattern of increased criminal activity around other U.S. prisons taken over by private operators.
“The state needs to take more of a role in this enforcement issue so that it doesn’t all fall on the city of Conneaut and its taxpayers,” Brickner said. “Conneaut has had a prison there for many, many years, but it hasn’t necessitated as much police power. If they want to address the major systemic issues inside, they’ll have to start helping control the perimeter.”