Ohio Becomes First State To Sell Off A Prison, Giving It To Prison Director’s Former Private Employer

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"Ohio Becomes First State To Sell Off A Prison, Giving It To Prison Director’s Former Private Employer"

After John Kasich won the Ohio gubernatorial election last fall, one of his first appointments was Gary Mohr to be the state Director of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Prior to his appointment, Mohr worked as managing director for the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a company that not only pushes states to build more private prisons, but also lobbies lawmakers to put more people in jail in order to fill the new supply of prison beds.

In his first nine months on the job, Mohr has already made one major shift in Ohio correctional policy. This month, Ohio became the first state in the nation to sell off a public prison to a private company:

A lockup along the shores of Lake Erie has become the first state prison in the nation to be sold to a private company.

Lake Erie Correctional Institution in northeastern Ohio’s Ashtabula County is the only one of five state prisons up for sale that will be sold, state officials said Thursday. Corrections Corporation of America will buy it for $72.7 million, more than the $50 million needed from the privatization effort to balance the state’s prison budget.

The CCA said it plans to add 304 prison beds to the prison.

Though Mohr recused himself from the selection process of which corporation would buy the prison, Ohio lobbying records show that the CCA met with Mohr to lobby him just one month into Kasich’s tenure:

In addition, as the AP notes, the CCA’s Ohio lobbyist, Don Thibaut, “served as Kasich’s chief of staff when he was in Congress.” The CCA has retained the services of Thibaut’s firm, The Credo Company, which also employed Mohr as a consultant for five years. The CCA’s lobbying and connections paid off when it was awarded the newly-privatized Lake Erie Correctional Institution this month.

Even though Kasich has declared his goal of reducing the overall number of prisoners in Ohio, his administration has now sold one of the state’s prisons to the CCA, a company that profits by incarcerating people.

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