Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Prison not just for DUI

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A privately run state prison meant to house drunken-driving offenders is holding large numbers of violent inmates, a state employees union alleged Monday.

        Sixteen percent of the inmates at the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton have been convicted of sexual battery, assault, arson, manslaughter, robbery, vehicular assault and other crimes, said Ron Alexander, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association.

        The union said an additional 23 percent of inmates, or 130 prisoners, should be considered dangerous.

        The 550-bed minimum-security prison, which opened in February, was designed for felony drunken-driving offenders and nonviolent drug and alcohol abusers. It is owned by the state but run by Marlboro, Mass.-based CiviGenics, a private company.

        Only 68 offenders, or 12.1 percent of the population, have drunken-driving convictions.

        All the inmates have problems with drug or alcohol abuse that led to their arrest.

        The state found it couldn't fill the prison only with drunken-driving offenders, a prisons department spokeswoman said.The department believed the legislation creating the prison was broad enough to include substance abusers.


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