Council majority sends letter criticizing prison to governor

Toledo Correctional Institution.
Toledo Correctional Institution.

A majority of Toledo City Council sent a message Tuesday to the governor against the increased number of inmates and addition of more-violent criminals housed at the Toledo Correctional Institution.

A scathing report last month about the prison and the recent murder of a fourth inmate — the fourth in less than a year — prompted councilmen Lindsay Webb, Paula Hicks-Hudson, Shaun Enright, Tyrone Riley, and Steven Steel to write a resolution calling on Gov. John Kasich to order the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to reduce the number of inmates housed at the Toledo Correctional Institution. It passed 11-1 with councilman Tom Waniewski casting the lone “no” vote.

Mr. Waniewski, who usually votes against such resolutions, said it was similar to other issues he believed council had no business trying to direct. He suggested instead directing the city’s lobbyist.

The resolution “lacks leadership and direction,” Mr. Waniewski said.

The resolution, presented during council’s agenda review meeting, also demanded additional measures to improve the staff turnover rate, which, at 16.5 percent, is the highest in the state.

“The increasing violence at the facility is not acceptable, especially given that the most recent inmate death took place after Governor Kasich and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction staff had received the [Correctional Institution Inspection Committee report],” the resolution states.

Ms. Webb said it was council’s duty to ask the governor to address problems at the prison because the inmates and many employees are Toledo residents.

According to the 164-page report, inmate-on-inmate assaults increased 113 percent from 2010 to 2012; in the same time period, inmate-on-staff assaults increased nearly 74 percent. The state report said violence at the prison might be attributed to a 2011 move that doubled the facility’s population. In 2012, level-four maximum-security inmates were moved in. As of September, 1,272 inmates were at the prison; 216 were level-four inmates.

In other business, council Tuesday voted 12-0 to accept a $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to hire 10 police officers for three years. The city must cover 25 percent of the salaries for the three years; must hire one person discharged under honorable conditions from active military service after Sept. 11, 2001, then keep the officers on the force after the three years is over.

Council also agreed to spend $100,000 to pay Siemens Industries Inc. to upgrade the security system at the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant in East Toledo.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.