A two-day informational picket is planned for next week outside the 11-year-old Toledo Correctional Institution, though the specific reason behind the event is unclear.
The event will be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Several other unions are expected to be there in support of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, according to Randy Deeble, a state correctional officer who is president of the association’s Chapter 4818.
Although a news advisory issued by the association stated the demonstration is being held to draw attention to state budget cuts, a prison spokesman claimed paperwork on file shows it is over non-union cleaning and grass-cutting of the North Toledo facility.
Mr. Deeble told The Blade in an interview Friday the union has concerns about the prison’s 20-person staff reduction at a time the inmate population is in the process of being doubled.
The prison staff has been reduced from 260 employees to 240 employees through attrition.
Meanwhile, plans are under way to double the population from 900 to 1,800 inmates, he said.
“We’re getting more inmates with less staff,” Mr. Deeble said, adding that it’s beginning to be a safety issue.
He said the state of Ohio should not “put a price on security and safety.”
But Meredith Rinna, warden’s assistant and public information officer, said the union’s notice of intent to picket was centered on non-union employees assuming maintenance and grass-cutting chores that had been delegated in the past to inmates of the prison camp for light offenders that had been adjacent to the correctional institution. It was one of 11 the state closed in April to save money.
Staff cuts and the closure of that prison camp “are creating a more dangerous environment and are putting surrounding neighborhoods at risk,” according to the union’s news advisory.
Toledo Correctional Institution, which opened in July of 2000 in a part of North Toledo known as Goose Hill, has an inmate capacity of 1,591. The inmate population was 1,416 Friday, Ms. Rinna said.
Carlo LoParo, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, did not dispute Mr. Deeble’s claim that the North Toledo prison’s inmate population was in the process of being doubled.
He said it will be the last Level 3 facility to have its population doubled. The state’s most violent criminals are incarcerated in Level 4 and Level 5 facilities, neither of which will have their populations doubled.
“It is completely manageable for other officers at our other Level 3 facilities,” Mr. LoParo said of the planned expansion for the Toledo prison population. “It should not be a problem from a security standpoint.”
Some facilities are even triple-bunked, he said.
Statewide, the Ohio prison system is at 131 percent capacity, Mr. LoParo said.