Private prison critics have been proven right once again. Smuggling incidents are on the rise around Lake Erie Correctional Institution, which Ohio sold to the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) in 2011.
In a letter to Gov. John Kasich’s northeast Ohio liaison, Conneaut Councilman Neil LaRusch asked Kasich to help after a rise in contraband smuggling forced local police to increase security around the CCA facility — a difficult task for a city with an already tight budget.
Since the end of 2012, four have been arrested and charged with smuggling. Another four were arrested Jan. 7 and police suspect they were in Conneaut for a smuggling job. According to the Star Beacon in Ashtabula County, the suspects were only caught due to the increased police presence at the prison.
The letter prompted a reaction from the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU), which has staunchly opposed prison privatization in the state. In a statement, Mike Brickner, director of communications and public policy for the ACLU, said, “Unfortunately, this is a predictable pattern with private prisons. Promises of lower costs quickly morph into higher crime, increased burdens on local law enforcement, and in the end, a higher bill for taxpayers.”
Col. John Born, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, responded to the councilman’s letter. In his own letter, Born doesn’t contradict that there’s a rise in drug smuggling, but he says drug cases have dropped in the prison since 2010. Still, he says the State Highway Patrol will be deploying more cruisers, even though he feels local law enforcement is best equipped, both legally and practically, to respond to any calls.
JoEllen Smith, spokesperson for ODRC, wrote in an email, “DRC will be in communication with the parties involved to ensure any remaining concerns are addressed.”