Prison Guards Concerned About Budget Cuts

Feb 6, 2013

Governor Kasich’s newly proposed two year state budget would make some changes in Ohio’s prisons meant to hold down costs.

But as Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports, the union representing prison guards say those changes would cost more in the long run and could even cost lives.

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Ohio Budget Director Tim Keen says Six Sigma, a management plan used by many businesses, is being used to make sure Ohio’s prisons are operating in the most effective way possible.  That’s why, he says the Department of Corrections plans to take cost cutting measures, including privatizing food service.

Keen – DRC will privatize food service for institutions enabling savings of approximately 18.6 million dollars a year when fully realized.  The Department of Youth Services will also take part in these savings, allowing DYS to realize savings.

But Tim Shafer, a spokesman for the union that represents prison guards at most of Ohio’s facilities, says this just sets the state up to repeat a big mistake.

Shafer – This is an experiment that was done many years ago that resulted in disastrous results for taxpayers of this state.  Then Auditor Petro conducted an audit about the multi million dollar over runs and charges these companies charged the state of Ohio.  This opens up a Pandora’s box for people who work in corrections.

Shafer says this sets up a have and have not system because inmates would depend more on commissary items available for purchase.  And Shafer says when inmates are hungry and in cramped conditions, as they are now, there is likely to be an increase in prison violence….and that, he says, could cost more than dollars…..Shafer says that could cost lives.