Southwest Ohio’s two state prisons are housling nearly twice the number they were designed to hold, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. With the state prison population increasing – it passed 50,000 this year for the first time – prison officials, corrections officers, and even the governor wonder how many more people the prison system can handle. “It is a great concern of mine for reasons involving safety and cost,” Gov. Ted Strickland said. He once worked as a psychologist at its Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, the site of the one of the longest and bloodiest prison riots in U.S. history.
With Ohio’s prison population predicted to hit 70,000 in less than a decade, state officials say they need to figure out how to handle those numbers in a system built for 37,610. The overcrowding is not just a problem for the convicts – killers and other violent criminals whose comfort is probably low on Ohioans’ priorities. It matters because corrections officers watch more inmates. Rehabilitation programs such as sex offender counseling, anger management and GED classes are stretched and have waiting lists. Some convicts are released with the same problems they arrived with, and are more likely to reoffend. More crowding leads to more diseases – such as staph infections – and more fights, which can lead to the ultimate nightmare: a full-blown riot.