House 9B at the Ohio’s Lorain Correctional Institution is so crowded that the inmates can barely move, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Many of them don’t. They just sleep and sit on their twin-size bunk beds every moment of the day, save for when it’s chow time or they’re in need of a bathroom break. The dorm is jampacked with about 50 beds, double bunked, head-to-toe, leaving just enough room to make a lap around the perimeter of the housing unit’s main floor. With no commons area, prisoners play cards on the floor between their mattresses.
With 1,920 inmates at a prison designed to hold 750, Lorain is at 256 percent of its capacity – the most-crowded prison in the state. The guards’ union will settle for hiring a couple of hundred more guards statewide. It wouldn’t help crowding conditions, but it might make the prisons safer. Ohio’s prison population has been on a steady rise over the past year, with 49,030 inmates. Prisons director Terry Collins has asked for more rehabilitation programs. But he has said nothing about hiring more guards. “None of our prisons are what I would consider powder keg situations,” he said. “But in this business. you are only as good as your last second. One wrong word could lead to things getting out of hand quickly.”