Ohio Correction Employees Picket For Safe Prisons

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Members of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) picketed Monday in front of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) demanding safer prisons.

Correction employees along with medical personnel, parole officers, and prison teachers joined the group to protest what they say are unsafe working conditions in Ohio prisons.

The group cites cuts in security staff, deficiencies with food service vendor, Aramark, and other "poor choices" by the DRC for breaches in security over the years.

OCSEA President, Christopher Mabe, said the safety of both prisoners and employees are at risk.

"We know budgets are about choices and the choices [DRC] has made and continues to make despite our warnings, have put our security at risk and made our prisons more violent and dangerous places to work," he said. "We need more security staff, an end to the food service contract and an opportunity to be real partners with [DRC] in keeping our prisons safe."

The DRC declined to comment on the protest, but said they “have the same goal as the union” and that the group “mischaracterized the willingness of DRC to work to resolve issues over privatization.”

Melvin Girtman, member of OCSEA, said Ohio is sending a clear message to both employees and prisoners if these issues are not addressed.

"If we let it go, it's saying that we really don't care about the safety of the people that work within the prisons," Girtman said. "Not only that, [it says] we don't care about the safety of the public."