When it comes to budget sacrifices, Ohio inmates are not exempt, says the Columbus Dispatch: they will have to pay $1 a month for electricity in their cells. Also behind bars, flavored drinks are out, saving $1 million, and meals will have less variety, saving $3 million over two years. Those changes are part of $30 million in cost savings at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction as part of the state’s budget belt-tightening. Among other changes: closing two prison farms, eliminating the $75 “gate pay” for certain inmates upon release and contracting for some medical services.
The agency must cut $188 million in the coming biennium under Gov. John Kasich’s budget blueprint. Much of that would be done by laying off or eliminating positions of 171 workers, selling five prisons to private operators and offering early retirement to veteran employees. Prisons chief Gary Mohr, looking to squeeze more money out of his budget, called together 200 staff members and asked them to come up with additional money-saving ideas. Many of the resulting suggestions were included in the plan rolled out this week.