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Conneaut: Up to 500 LECI inmates restricted after fights

1:38 PM, Apr 9, 2013   |    comments
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CONNEAUT --  Nearly 500 inmates have been restricted to their bunks following two weekend fights at a privately operated prison in northeast Ohio.

The restriction involves one of three housing units at the 1,700-inmate Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut.

Spokesman Steve Owen with Corrections Corporation of America in Nashville, Tenn., said Tuesday that one inmate injured in a fight required hospital treatment and was returned to the prison. Owen says the fights were unrelated.

The CCA-owned and operated prison, located in northeast Ohio about 25 miles from Erie, Pa., houses inmates under contract with the state of Ohio.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio in a report Tuesday said inmate fights and attacks on guards are up sharply at the prison since the private takeover and blamed overcrowding.

Tuesday morning, the ACLU of Ohio released a timeline to state legislators and the public, chronicling the first 18 months in the life of Lake Erie Correctional institution.

See the timeline

It is the nation's first prison sold to a for-profit company, the ACLU wrote.

The release comes two days before the anniversary of the Lucasville prison uprising.

"Laid out in a timeline format, the decline of this facility is clear," said ACLU Director of Communications and Public Policy Mike Brickner.

"In less than two years, this prison has become a privately owned accident waiting to happen."

The ACLU of Ohio also announced that it received documents from inside the prison that indicate the private prison's segregation unit is overcrowded -- now at 130 percent capacity, with dozens of cells housing three inmates, meaning prisoners are sleeping on the floor.

"The parallels between LaECl and what transpired two decades ago in Lucasville are frightening," added Brickner.

The ACLU said a February audit of LaECl by the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee found a number of alarming statistics.

From 2010-2012, inmate-on-inmate assaults at LaECl have increased by over 180 percent while inmate-on-staff assaults increased by over 300 percent. Inmate violations for fighting have increased 40 percent, and the total number of prison disturbances in-2012 doubled in comparison to prior years.

Along with the timeline, the ACLU also issued a letter to legislators, asking them to consider legislative action to increase accountability and safety at the troubled private prison.

Read the letter

WKYC-TV/Associated Press

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