The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) on Sept. 25 said it will not seek further privatization of state prisons. The announcement was made less than a week after CityBeat published a story detailing the various problems posed by privatizing prisons (“Liberty for Sale,” issue of Sept. 19).
Gary Mohr, director of ODRC, made the announcement while talking to legislative reporting service Gongwer in Columbus.
“We’re going to stay the course on those (sentencing reforms) and I think privatizing additional prisons would take away from that reform effort that we have, so I’m not anticipating privatizing any more prisons in the short term here,” he told Gongwer.
Ohio became the first state to sell one of its own prisons to a private prison company in 2011.
The ACLU criticized the move for its potential conflict of interest, arguing that the profit-oriented nature of private prison companies fundamentally contradicts the public policy goal of keeping inmate reentry into prisons and prison populations as low as possible.
In the past, the ACLU and other groups criticized Mohr’s previous ties to private prison companies — particularly his private work for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) before he became director for ODRC. CCA in 2011 became the first private company in Ohio’s history to purchase a state prison. The connection presents another possible conflict of interest, and it is only one of the many connections between CCA and Gov. John Kasich’s administration.
CityBeat was not able to reach ODRC for comment on Mohr’s announcement.