Budget problems and layoffs have so crippled Ohio’s Ashtabula County justice system that dozens of crimes committed at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution over the last three years, including felony assaults and drug offenses, have not been prosecuted, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
In one case, an inmate had surgery to repair multiple fractures to his left cheek and nose after another prisoner sucker-punched him. The State Highway Patrol recommended felony charges against the assailant, but a trooper reported that, “Due to the budget crunch, they will not be able to prosecute. They have no funds to transport or house the inmates needed for testimony.” Money is so tight that people who call the office of Ashtabula County Prosecutor Thomas Sartini hear this recording: “Due to budget restrictions, we are unable to answer phone calls between the hours of 12 and 4:30. Please leave a message and we will respond as soon as personnel are available.”