Prison in northern Ohio sees drop in assaults a year after rise in violence, fatal attacks

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TOLEDO, Ohio — A state prison troubled by a rise in violence, including four fatal attacks on inmates in 13 months, has seen a drop assaults and disturbances over the past year, according to a prisons oversight committee.

The Toledo Correctional Institution also is making improvements in security, management of maximum security prisoners, health-care services and employee turnover, said a report from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee.

Joanna Saul, the committee's executive director, said the prison has made an extraordinary transformation. "The institution is overall safer, with a perceptibly more secure environment," she said.

The prison in October 2013 stopped accepting some new prisoners in a move aimed at cutting down on the number of prisoners who share a cell.

Violence soared after the facility started doubling up prisoners in the same cell to deal with overcrowding beginning in 2011.

The change in accepting some prisoners came just after a man serving a 40-year sentence for attempted murder and robbery was attacked and killed by his cellmate.

That was the fourth inmate death in just over a year. There have been none since then.

According to the committee's latest report that covers the year ending June 30, there were 50 inmate-on-inmate assaults in 2014 — down from 53 during each of the two previous years.

The number of assaults by inmates on staff increased slightly to 58, one more than the year before, The Blade (http://bit.ly/1rpTiim) in Toledo reported.

Changes have been made to improve employee morale and retain employees, including the management of maximum security inmates, Saul said.

The prison, she said, also has shifted administrative personnel, hired more staff and underwent a comprehensive review since the committee's last inspection.

"The improvements can be attributed to number of things including involving staff from all levels at the facility in developing solutions to issues that had previously been identified. In addition, we have reduced the inmate population and increased staffing," said JoEllen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.


Information from: The Blade, http://www.toledoblade.com/

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