© 2021 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Government & Politics

Former Ohio Prisons Inspector Says Lack of Funding, Support Threaten Inspection Committee's Work

prison guard tower
GINO REYES
/
U.S.A.F.
The budget for Ohio’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee has been slashed.";

An office that inspects and reports on conditions, trends and violence in Ohio’s 27 adult prisons and three juvenile facilities is down to one staff member, and its work is being done largely by college interns. The office’s former director says she’s worried that trouble, which should have been foreseen, is on the horizon.

Joanna Saul Carns leads an office that investigates prison complaints in Washington State.  In 2016, she resigned as director of Ohio’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee but hoped lawmakers who forced her out would keep funding it. Instead its budget has been slashed, it’s down to one staff member, it hasn’t issued a report in four years and is relying on unpaid interns.

“These staff people are dealing with tremendous workloads in a stressful environment. And so, things will fall through the cracks. And it’s not through anyone’s malintent,” Carns said. 

Carns said interns aren’t trained to analyze data on prison violence, mental health care and contraband among more than 49,000 inmates. She’s hoping lawmakers will bring back funding to the office to ensure more oversight over the prison system.