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Published: Wednesday, 4/30/2003

Lima court lengthens prison order

LIMA, Ohio - An Allen County judge gave another reprieve to employees of the Lima Correctional Institution by granting a 14-day extension to his original temporary restraining order.

Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Reed granted the extension yesterday, saying it is imperative that both sides be given a full and fair opportunity to prepare for their cases, and that discovery has been hampered by the unavailability of witnesses and failure of the parties to communicate with each other.

The original restraining order was granted April 16 to stop the state from mailing layoff notices and transferring inmates. The order gave the union representing prison employees time to build a case asking for a preliminary injunction to keep the prison open. The Ohio Civil Service Employee Association, which represents the employees, claims the state's decision to close the prison violated the union's contract because it did not bargain before it made the announcement.

Reginald Wilkinson, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said the two-week delay won't make a difference. “If and when the case is settled in favor of the state, then we're going to maybe double up the number of persons ... being transferred out,” he said. “Right now, we still have the same goal of having the facility closed by July 1.”

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