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Courts and Crime

ACLU urges state officials to investigate inmate death
First unnatural death at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution since it was bought by for-profit company, Corrections Corporation of America.

Simon Husted
In The Region:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is urging state officials to investigate the death of a prison inmate. Michael Nelson, a 59-year-old Chardon-area native died at Lake Erie Correctional Institution this weekend. The group wants to know whether the prison officials were negligent in the suspected overdosed.

Mike Brickner of the ACLU of Ohio says this is the prison’s first unnatural death since Correction Corporation of America bought the Conneaut facility last year. It was the first time a private company took ownership of a state prison. And since then, Brickner says the Conneaut facility has been riddled with violations. 

Listen to Brickner.

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“As long as we continue down this path of privatization, we’re going to continue to see these types of problems come up because, again, the private prison companies’ main motivation is making the most money out of these prisoners,” Brickner says. “Providing medical care and providing more training for their staff eats away at their profit.”

A State Audit in September revealed 47 violations at the prison. Prison officials fixed 38 of those, according to a November follow-up audit.

Steve Owen of Correction Corporation of America says the ACLU is playing politics.

Listen to Owen.
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“The simple truth is CCA provides safe, affordable and dependable to governments that face the very real and practical challenges of growing inmate populations, overcrowding, higher recidivism rates and increasing budget pressures,” Owen says.      

Owen also says the company has worked hard with auditors and is pleased with the improvements it has made between the September and November audits.

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