Report: Dayton Women’s Prison Plagued With Problems
A state representative from Miami Township is calling on the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections to investigate Dayton Correctional Institution after a recent state inspection of the women’s prison turned up multiple troubling allegations.
The Correctional Institution Inspection Committee surveyed and interviewed dozens of people at Dayton Correctional Institution (DCI), which houses around 900 women from minimum to maximum security. The results painted a picture of a facility that is falling apart.
The committee heard 16 reports of sexual contact between staff and the women incarcerated there, up from zero in the 2013 inspection. Women also said guards were bringing in drugs, and that guards frequently used abusive language towards prisoners. Reentry programs and physical facilities had declined.
There was an increase in use of force, and reports of inadequate mental health services. About half of the 900 women in the facility require mental health services, and the report describes mental health requests “being triaged by unqualified staff.” It goes on: “Even in the time between the inspection and the publication of this report, another Mental Health Administrator left.”
It also appears to be difficult for people incarcerated at DCI to complain; a high percentage of the women surveyed said they had been prevented from filing grievances, or feared retaliation if they did.
Republican State Rep. Niraj Antani of Miami Township was on that inspection committee.
“I think that it’s disturbing and I think that if this is going on at this particular prison it could be going on at others,” Antani said. He pointed out that close to ten percent of the state budget goes to the Department of Corrections. DCI’s budget for the year is over $23 million. “It’s a big deal because taxpayer dollars are at stake here, and so we can’t just allow these things to go on at our prisons."
He’s asking prisons director Gary Mohr for a full investigation, including a report to the general assembly, and said he had not received a response to a letter sent Wednesday.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections wasn’t available for an interview, but sent a written statement.
“Anytime information is received suggesting staff is conveying contraband or involved in any other type of misconduct, that allegation is taken very seriously and thoroughly investigated,” wrote spokeswoman JoEllen Smith. She says the department is close to hiring an investigator whose job will be to look into the allegations at DCI. The statement also said there are seven open investigations at DCI under the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act.
DCI has a new warden as of December 2014, and several people, including the prison’s last investigator have been fired for inappropriate behavior. The warden’s office declined comment.
The facility located in west Dayton was converted to a women’s prison in 2011.
Lewis Wallace is WYSO's managing editor, substitute host and economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.