After recommending confirmation of Ohio’s newly appointed public safety director yesterday, a state Senate committee approved a bill that would end an inmate program that helped derail the previous safety director, repros the Columbus Dispatch. Tom Stickrath, Gov. Ted Strickland’s third public safety director in nine months, replaced Cathy Collins-Taylor, whose confirmation was rejected by Senate Republicans after an inspector general’s report into an incident involving inmates working at the governor’s residence led to questions about her performance.
Stickrath, who took over a troubled Ohio Department of Youth Services in 2004, said he has great respect for patrol officers and expects to have a collaborative relationship, acknowledging there is some “bridge building to do.” The committee voted along party lines on a bill that would eliminate the inmate-work program at the governor’s residence. Last week, the governor suspended the program indefinitely when an inmate was caught there with a blood-alcohol level more than three times the level at which someone is considered drunk. Democrats argued against eliminating the program, saying that with tighter controls it can still be a good way to help inmates transition back into society. Strickland continued last week to defend the program as a valuable rehabilitative tool.