Inmates told CityBeat about violence, staff ineptitude and unsanitary conditions inside Ohio’s private prison. Then came the surprise inspections.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 29, 2013
has obtained letters and emails from two prisoners and their families
confirming fights, lockdowns and unsanitary conditions at the Lake Erie
prison in northeastern Ohio, which became the first state prison to be
sold to a private company.
by German Lopez
85 days ago
Tea party lands school board seats, death penalty scrutinized, AG campaigns spar over role
Fiscal conservatives and tea party activists won more
seats on local school boards last year, putting them in the awkward
position of supposedly looking out for the school’s best interests while
rejecting property tax levies that could boost schools’ resources and outcomes. As one example, a member of the Coalition
Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) now sits on the board for Kings Schools in Warren County that she once sued for public records.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio on Sunday
called on Gov. John Kasich to immediately halt the death penalty across
the state, following the botched, 26-minute execution of convicted
killer Dennis McGuire. The execution, the longest since Ohio restarted using
capital punishment again in 1999, utilized a new cocktail of drugs that had
never been tried before in the United States. It’s unclear whether
state officials will use the same drugs for the five other executions
planned for the year.David Pepper, the Democratic candidate for attorney
general, says Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine should stop
defending court-rejected, unconstitutional voting and ballot restrictions. DeWine argues that it’s the attorney general’s job to
defend Ohio and its laws, regardless of his opinion on constitutionality. But
DeWine actually stepped aside and assigned a separate attorney to a case
involving restrictions on “false statements” in political campaigns
because, according to him, the law’s constitutionality is questionable.Martin Luther King Jr. and modern Republicans would likely
stand in opposition on numerous issues, including voting rights, the
death penalty and reproductive rights.A top policy aide for Gov. Kasich says local
governments should share more services. But some municipal officials argue the Kasich
administration is just trying to deflect criticisms regarding local government
funding cuts carried out by his Republican administration and the
Republican-controlled legislature over the past few years.The Justice Department is investigating a former chief
judge of Cincinnati’s federal appeals court for nearly $140,000 in
travel expenses he took during his four and a half years on the bench.Fewer Ohio students need remedial college classes following high school graduation.U.S. House Speaker John Boehner called a fellow Republican an asshole, according to Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro.Seven out of 10 people will live in cities by 2050, according to Popular Science.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
86 days ago
Letter to governor points to new cocktail of drugs as culprit
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio on
Sunday asked Gov. John Kasich to halt the death penalty across the
state, following the botched execution of convicted killer Dennis McGuire
that reportedly lasted 26 minutes.McGuire’s prolonged execution, the longest since Ohio
resumed capital punishment in 1999, was carried out on Jan. 16 with a
new cocktail of drugs that had never been tried before in the United
States. The use of the new drugs came about after Ohio ran out of its
previous supplies.With its letter, the ACLU joined other groups, including
Ohioans to Stop Executions, in calling for an end or pause to
state-sanctioned killing.“This is not about Dennis McGuire, his terrible crimes, or
the crimes of others who await execution on death row,” reads the ACLU
letter. “It is about our duty as a society that sits in judgment of
those who are convicted of crimes to treat them humanely and ensure
their punishment does not violate the Constitution.”The letter adds, “We are mere months away from new
recommendations from the Ohio Supreme Court Taskforce on the
Administration of the Death Penalty that could alter our system for the
better. On the eve of monumental changes, along with increasing problems
with lethal injection, is not now the time to step back and pause?”McGuire’s family also announced on Friday it would file a lawsuit claiming his death constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.”Five more people await execution in Ohio this year, according to the ACLU. It’s
unclear whether the state will use the same cocktail of drugs following
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union of
Ohio says it opposes Senate Bill 238, which would reduce Ohio’s
in-person early voting period from 35 to 29 days.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 11:40 AM | Permalink
Proposed legislation removes five days in which voters can simultaneously register and vote
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio says it opposes
Senate Bill 238, which would reduce Ohio’s in-person early voting
period from 35 to 29 days and repeal a five-day period in which Ohioans
can simultaneously register to vote and vote in person.
“The five-day window offers major benefits to many voters,
including those with disabilities or inflexible work schedules, and
there is little evidence that it has created any major problems,” said
ACLU of Ohio Director of Communications and Public Policy Mike Brickner
in a statement. “S.B. 238 throws away these critical, nonpartisan
benefits for no good reason.”
The bill was introduced in the Ohio Senate on Nov. 13 by
Republican State Sen. Frank Larose. It’s co-sponsored by six Republicans,
including State Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati.
The bill’s introduction follows a letter from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted urging legislators to trim in-person early voting days.
The Ohio Association of Election Officials claims
uniform voting hours are necessary to avoid legal challenges in case
some counties set longer voting periods than others, which courts could
deem unfair under equal protection grounds. The uniform voting periods
reduce early voting days in some counties without their approval, the
organization acknowledges, but it’s necessary to keep the standards
uniform without placing an unfair burden on smaller counties.
Democrats, including State Rep. Alicia Reece of Cincinnati, say the real reason behind such proposals is to suppress voters.
“The Secretary of State’s voter suppression agenda is
extremely disappointing. As the state’s chief elections officer,
Secretary Husted is tasked with the duty of ensuring that Ohio’s
elections are fair and accessible to all citizens,” Reece said in a
statement. “Unfortunately, the proposed changes are aimed at restricting
voters’ access to the ballot box in 2014.”
Democrats have some evidence to their claims. Doug
Preisse, chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party and close
adviser to Gov. John Kasich, previously wrote to The Columbus Dispatch
in an email regarding early voting, “I guess I really actually feel we
shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read
African-American — voter-turnout machine.”
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 01:31 PM | Permalink
New program requires better oversight and clear protocols, say criminal justice officials
A panel of nine criminal justice officials on Friday recommended limiting access to Ohio’s facial recognition program and establishing protocols that would seek to make the program less prone to abuse. The panel’s recommendations follow a nearly two-month review of current procedures and public criticisms over the program’s secrecy and alleged lack of oversight.The panel broadly looked at the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG), a state database of criminal justice histories and records, but largely focused on the controversial facial recognition program, which was live for more than two months and 2,677 searches before Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine formally announced its existence in August. The program allows police officers and civilian employees to use a photo to search databases for names and contact information; previously, law enforcement officials needed a name or address to search such databases.The panel recommends limiting access of the facial recognition program to law enforcement, meaning police departments, sheriff’s offices, state highway patrol, county prosecuting attorneys and other local, state or federal bodies that enforce criminal laws or have employees who have the legal authority to carry out an arrest. Anyone else who wants to tap into the system would need to do so with written permission from the superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).For those who would retain access, the panel says written policies and protocols should be developed and implemented. The recommendations extend from written rules for out-of-state officials to a training program that better establishes clear penalties for misuse and guidelines for reporting and prosecuting infractions.The report calls for improved monitoring of the system, which it states is “perhaps the most effective measure of whether the system is being properly implemented for its intended criminal justice purpose.” The oversight should include random audits of OHLEG, one person in charge of monitoring OHLEG’s use in each local agency and a model for ideal use, according to the report.The panel says the attorney general should also establish a steering committee comprised of criminal justice officials, along with an advisory group. The committee would be in charge of OHLEG training, monitoring and policy review, among other oversight functions.The panel also advises the attorney general’s office to launch an education campaign that tells the public of the potential benefits of OHLEG’s programs.Separately, the Ohio Public Defender’s Office recommends allowing citizens to access their own criminal history records through a secure Internet portal with a social security number, similar to AnnualCreditReport.com.The panel included former Ohio Supreme Court justices, judges and law enforcement officials, among other criminal justice leaders from around Ohio.DeWine, a Republican, says the facial recognition program
is a vital tool for law enforcement to more easily identify and catch
potential criminals. But critics, including the American Civil Liberties
Union of Ohio and Democratic attorney general candidate David Pepper,
say the program was allowed to operate for far too long without public knowledge or proper
checks in place.When asked if DeWine will implement the recommendations, Lisa Hackley, spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, wrote in an email, “The Attorney General has committed to implementing the recommendations. Some are already in progress. Others, such as those requiring new computer programming, may take longer.”The full report:Updated at 10:04 p.m. with comment from the attorney general’s office.
Should Ohio inmates be commodities in a for-profit venture?
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Security and public policy risks, along with research suggesting that private prisons don't save taxpayer money, paint a grim picture of Ohio’s public and budget health as the state moves to monetize prison inmates.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 16, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
of Ohio on Oct. 9 announced it will sue the state of Ohio over
anti-abortion restrictions enacted as part of the 2014-2015 state
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 09:59 AM | Permalink
Civil liberties group says rules violate state constitution
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio on
Wednesday announced it is suing the state of Ohio over anti-abortion
restrictions enacted as part of the 2014-2015 state budget.
“To put it simply, none of these amendments have any place
in the state budget bill,” said Susan Scheutzow, ACLU cooperating
attorney and partner at the law firm of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, in
a statement. “This massive bill is not intended to deal with new
policy; the single subject of the budget should be the appropriation of
funds for existing government programs or obligations.”
The lawsuit claims the restrictions violate the Ohio
Constitution’s “single subject” rule, which requires each individual law keep to a single subject to avoid complexity and hidden language. In
the case of the budget, the ACLU argues that the law shouldn’t go beyond
appropriating state funds and tax collection.
The three anti-abortion budget amendments in question ban
public hospitals and abortion clinics from making transfer agreements
that are required to keep clinics open; order clinics to take
government-outlined steps, including showing a patient if a fetal
heartbeat is detected, before carrying out an abortion procedure; and
create a new “parenting and pregnancy” program that shifts state funds
into private organizations that are barred from mentioning abortion
“The first two amendments have nothing at all to do with
budget appropriations,” said Jessie Hill, ACLU cooperating attorney and
professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, in a
statement. “The third is also unconstitutional because it creates and
funds an entirely new government program, something that requires
The ACLU says the lawsuit is about promoting good
government that follows the rules, regardless of where any individual
stands on the issue of abortion.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Preterm, a women’s
health clinic in Cleveland that provides contraception, family planning
and abortion services.
One anti-abortion restriction that’s not being sued over:
The state budget effectively defunded clinics like Planned Parenthood by
deeming their non-abortion services less competitive.
Republican legislators and Gov. John Kasich approved the
anti-abortion restrictions with the state budget in June. But Democratic
critics say the new rules harshly restrict access to legal abortions
protected by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
CityBeat covered the state budget in further detail here.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 10:00 AM | Permalink
LGBT groups, civil libertarians and legislators involved in “big marriage push”
LGBT groups, civil libertarians and legislators are coming
together in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus today to announce Why
Marriage Matters Ohio, a new statewide effort to educate and persuade
Ohioans to support legalizing same-sex marriage.
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry,
explained the campaign’s purpose in a statement: “Why Marriage Matters
Ohio aims to encourage neighbor-to-neighbor conversations across the
state, inviting people to talk about their own individual journeys
toward support of the freedom to marry and their values of respect for
commitment and treating others as we’d all want to be treated. Personal
stories are the best conversation starter — and conversation is the best
way to help people understand that all loving and committed couples in
Ohio, gay and non-gay alike, should be able to share in the freedom to
marry and the security and meaning marriage brings.”
The campaign involves the American Civil Liberties Union
of Ohio, Equality Ohio, Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign. The efforts have been endorsed by faith and business
community leaders, according to the groups.
“Marriage is the ultimate recognition of loving
relationships,” State Rep. Denise Driehaus, a Cincinnati Democrat, said
in a statement. “It's time for Ohio to get down to business and start
respecting all marriages.”
In Cincinnati, Driehaus is announcing the campaign with Jim Obergefell, a
Cincinnati resident who’s having his marriage recognized on his spouse’s
death certificate as a result of a court order in favor of marriage
equality. When issuing that court order, U.S. District Judge Timothy
Black cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier in the year that deemed
the federal government’s anti-gay marriage laws unconstitutional.
Public officials and supporters are lining up in two other Ohio
cities to support the campaign: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is speaking in
Cleveland, and Elyzabeth Holford, executive director of Equality Ohio, is making the announcement in Columbus.
According to a statement issued by the campaign, the effort is partly in response to recent public polling.
The 2013 Ohio Values Survey from the Public Religion Research Institute
found Ohioans evenly divided on same-sex marriage: 47 percent supported
it and 47 opposed it. But 51 percent said they oppose amending the
state constitution to legalize marriage equality.
Still, the survey findings went against previous polls from The Washington Post and Quinnipiac University, which found a plurality of Ohioans now support allowing same-sex marriages in the state.
Beyond allowing gay couples to share in the same rights as straight couples, same-sex marriages could also boost Ohio’s economic and job growth.
A previous study from Bill LaFayette, founder of Regionomics, LLC,
found that Ohio’s gross domestic product, which measures economic
worth, would go up by $100-$126 million within three years of same-sex
marriage legalization and sustain 740 to 930 jobs within the first year
of legalization, 250 to 310 jobs within the second year and 170 to 210
jobs within the third year.
The education push comes in time for a broader effort to legalize same-sex marriage. FreedomOhio originally planned to get the issue on the ballot this year, but it delayed the initiative for the 2014 ballot.