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Ohio: MTC agrees to take cut.

Grafton prison agrees to state contract cut
Kristin Yarbrough - The Chronicle-Telegram July 07, 2002

GRAFTON - The company that operates the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility and the state's only other privately run prison has agreed to take a $400,000 cut in its contracts with the state. The move comes as the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation realigns its facilities to accommodate $50 million in cuts mandated in the state budget approved last month by lawmakers. The prison department also announced it would close parts of four state prisons to meet the mandated cuts. The future of a privately operated prison here appears more secure after the state renegotiated its contract to lower costs by $400,000. Management and Training Corp. of Utah, the company that runs North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton and another prison in Conneaut, agreed to the cut in its contracts, said Andrea Dean, a spokeswoman for the state prison department.

The state had a $13.3 million contract with MTC to run the 550-bed North Coast and a $21 million contract to run the 1,300-bed Lake Erie Correctional Institution.

Inmate capacities at both prisons will stay the same, said Al Murphy, vice president for corrections at MTC. MTC has been working with the state since budget problems first loomed more than six months ago, Murphy said. The renegotiation of the contracts does not mean North Coast is on the chopping block, said state Rep. Jeff Manning, R.-North Ridgeville. The prison's efficiency and the state of the local economy are two good reasons state officials are keeping North Coast open, he said.

"Our economy isn't up for a setback like that. I think that's pretty persuasive to the governor," he said.

But if the economy tumbles and further cuts are ordered, the local privately run prison, as well as the one in Conneaut, could be targeted for closure, he said. Many changes will be needed in all levels of government if sales and income tax revenues don't recover from last year's recessionary economy, he said. None of the state-run prisons in Grafton will be affected by the cuts announced Friday.

Some portions of the Warren Correctional Institution in Lebanon, the North Central Correctional Institution and the Marion Correctional Institution in Marion and Allen Correctional Institution in Lima will be closed as part of the cutbacks, said Reginald Wilkinson, director of Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The cuts will eliminate 660 beds and 56 staff, Wilkinson said.

Legislators approved a $10 million reduction during the latest round of budget cuts. Gov. Bob Taft ordered an additional $40 million cut Monday. The state closed Orient Correctional Institution in a cost-cutting measure earlier this year. Since January 2001, the ODRC has eliminated 1,849 positions and 3,024 beds at prisons around the state. Union officials have complained that the hiring freeze and job cuts have put increasing pressure on remaining employees. Overtime for guards jumped 48 percent through the first three months of the year. Representatives from the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, which represents prison guards, did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. Contact Kristin Yarbrough at 329-7152 or

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