The director of Ohio’s prison system told lawmakers that hundreds of jobs would be lost and another prison could close if the state’s budget scenario further tightens, reports the Toledo Blade. “There is no way that we can meet the terms and conditions of this budget without reducing staff in our correctional facilities,” said Reginald Wilkinson, director of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Staffing at Ohio’s 32 state prisons and central administration office has declined by 1,906 positions since 2001. The state has closed two prisons since 2002.
Meanwhile, total prison population has remained largely stable at nearly 44,000 inmates, despite a record number of new commitments last year. “History has shown when you put people closer together with fewer guards, that’s a sure-fire formula for disaster,” said state Rep. Tom Patton. A union official noted that the lost positions in the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction since 2001 represent 60 percent of the total reduced state work force in that time period.