East Side prison sit-in about food, medical care
By Burton SPEAKMAN
The 14-hour sit-in protest at Northeast Ohio Correctional Center was related to inmate issues with food and medical concerns.
The city will receive a full report about the incident sometime in the middle of next week, said Mayor John A. McNally.
McNally, along with several other city officials and state Rep. Robert Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, met Friday with officials of Corrections Corporation of America, which owns NEOCC.
“The meeting went very well, and the officials from CCA completely understand our concerns,” McNally said. The protest started with a group of 40 to 50 Dominican prisoners and grew from there, Hagan said.
Officials told the local officials the protest eventually involved as many as 240 inmates, McNally said.
“Next week, the warden is going to meet with 10 inmate representatives to discuss their concerns,” the mayor said.
The prison still is conducting an internal investigation that it expects to complete next week, he added.
Hagan said he was satisfied with CCA’s answers at the meeting.
“We finally got some answers, but it took a guy coming all the way up from Nashville to give them,” he said.
The Ohio General Assembly’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee will tour NEOCC Friday, Hagan said.
The state committee will talk with the inmates responsible for starting the sit-in, he said.
“I’ve asked that no transfers be made unless they are absolutely necessary for safety and security reasons,” Hagan said.
He noted that CCA’s representative apologized that he was denied access when he tried to enter the prison Wednesday.
“He stated I should have been let in and been part of the investigation or at least allowed to sit there,” Hagan said.
NEOCC is within the providence of the CIIC and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The expectation is that facility officials will cooperate with the state and local agencies, even though they house federal inmates, Hagan said.
Situations like this one where no one received any information for three days can’t happen in the future, he added.
Should such incidents occur, the city will not learn about them because a woman from the Bronx calls the police department concerned about her nephew who is an inmate at the prison, McNally said.
The terms of the contract between the prison and the city require that the city receive a written report within 24 hours of any unusual incident, he said.
“We’ve been assured that the terms of the agreement will be followed to a T in the future,” McNally said. “The company understands its obligations to the city.”
In a statement released Friday afternoon, CCA said:
“We are committed to the safety and security of the community, our employees and the inmates entrusted to our care at NEOCC. This was reflected in the efforts of our facility’s dedicated management team and staff and the peaceful outcome Tuesday. This commitment also extends to maintaining open and regular lines of communication with local and state officials, as evidenced by today’s meeting. We greatly appreciate the longstanding support from area leaders and remain committed to an open dialogue with them.”