Ohio Considers Selling Five Prisons
(03/16/2011)

RAFTON, Ohio — Gov. John Kasich is expected to announce a state budget plan that includes the sale of five state prisons. The new budget would take effect July 1.

Under the plan, Grafton Correctional Institution and North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility, a substance-abuse treatment center, would be sold as a package deal.

Grafton Correctional, which houses 1,500 inmates, costs approximately $30 million a year to operate. North Coast Correctional, which is run by Management & Training Corp., a Utah-based corporation that operates prisons around the country, houses roughly 700 inmates.

“Given the dramatic impact this would make on so many lives and families, we need to take more time to talk this through,” said state Rep. Matt Lundy. “I’m confident if we could get everybody together, we could find savings of 5 to 10 percent. Unfortunately, there appears to be very little interest in having those conversations right now.”

The sales of the prisons, along with legislation reducing the collective bargaining rights of state employees, are designed to help close Ohio’s $8 billion deficit.

The sale of GCI, North Coast, North Central Correctional Institution in Marion. Lake Erie Correctional Institute, and the Marion Juvenile Correctional Institution,  which is currently empty, is part of Kasich’s proposal to privatize state-run operations.

Kasich has argued that privatizing state-run operations will reduce costs and increase revenues from the sale of assets.

One possible benefit of a sale of state prisons, according to Chief Deputy Lorain County Auditor Linda Keys, would be that the county would start collecting property taxes. State-owned prisons are exempt from property taxes.

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