In the past four years, nearly 8,600 assaults were reported in the Ohio prison system, 4,157 of them on corrections officers and other staff members, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Of those, 116 were considered serious: stab wounds, concussions and head trauma, fractures and sprains, eye injuries, a damaged spinal cord, nerve damage and bite wounds. The totals also include sexual assaults and “harassment,” which typically means throwing or expelling bodily fluids or feces.
County prosecutors file charges in only about one of 10 staff assault cases. Prosecutors cite financial constraints and often argue that it’s futile to file charges against inmates already behind bars, some of them for life. Gary Mohr, Ohio prisons director, is working with Attorney General Mike DeWine to support local prosecutors so they pursue charges in more of the serious cases of assault on staff members. “There’s not one priority of mine any greater than reducing inmate violence,” said Mohr. “This is not the same system I left 8 1/2 years ago,” he said. “The biggest difference is the level of violence.” Mohr said there has been a steady increase in violence for many years. He said violent incidents involving six or more inmates are erupting, on average, every week, compared with once a month five years ago.