State inspectors say conditions at Dayton’s all-female prison have improved, though a prison chaplain currently is suspended pending a sexual assault investigation and concerns persist about inmate access to mental health services.
A February inspection at the Dayton Correctional Institution found worrisome levels of inappropriate staff-inmate relationships, increasing use of force, lagging mental health services and more. But DCI “has made significant progress forward,” according to the report by the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee based on an Oct. 5-7 followup inspection.
”CIIC hopes to see further progress in the future,” the report concluded.
DCI has hired a dedicated investigator to handle allegations of employee misconduct, the CIIC wrote. Sexual misconduct allegations have decreased and investigations are being completed more quickly.
But, the report said “sexual misconduct is always a concern at a female institution and even during the inspection, there were reports of an additional administrative staff person under investigation.”
A prison chaplain has been on paid leave since Sept. 25. The Ohio Highway Patrol is investigating an inmate’s claim that the chaplain had sex with her sometime between September 2014 and January 2015. The incident is being investigated as a felony sexual assault.
This newspaper has reported that inappropriate relationships between staff and inmates — ranging from sharing candy in violation of prison rules to engaging in sexual contact — have been a problem since the prison became all-female in 2012.
The chaplain brings to seven the number of DCI employees who have been suspended this year because of allegations of inappropriate relations with inmates.
The CIIC report notes that problems with staffing and finding space during a renovation of the facility led the prison to suspend mental health programming for more than a month.
This has been a major concern for Audrey Dotson, whose daughter Kara Garvin is serving a life sentence after being convicted of a triple homicide in Scioto County in 2008.
Dotson said she complained to the prison and the department of corrections, finally working her way up to Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Gary Mohr to report that her daughter wasn’t being taken to her appointments.
“If you are in prison for life without the possibility of parole, there’s only one way of leaving, isn’t there? And that’s death,” Dotson said. “I shouldn’t have to take matters to (Mohr’s) office, but that’s what it took.”
The report notes there have been two suicide attempts at DCI since the February inspection.
The prison has taken steps to ensure that force, when used, is done properly, the CIIC said.
The report also mentions that the prison’s 255 employees received specialized training in dealing with a female population, which currently numbers 872 inmates.
The inspection also found re-entry services for inmates lacking, but improving.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction issued a statement about the CIIC report:
“As noted by the (CIIC), a number of positive things have occurred at the Dayton Correctional Institution over the past several months,” the statement said.
“The facility will continue to expand services and programs, and the warden is committed to continuously evaluating operations to ensure policy compliance and accountability for both staff and inmates.”
DCI is one of 25 prisons in Ohio, including three female prisons. The state’s prison system housed 46,365 males and 4,254 females in 2014.
State inspectors will be monitoring DCI’s progress. Per the report: “CIIC plans to return after another period of time to again re-inspect the facility.”