Ed Voorhies, managing director of operations at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, said DCI is designed to house the state’s most violent female offenders, though many of those inmates were housed elsewhere in prior years as DCI lacked mental health facilities.
Now that mental health services are in place at DCI, the facility is home to the highest-level security female inmates. The prison’s population the day of the inspection was 878.
“The mission of DCI is to be our high-security female facility,” he said.
At the same time, he added, “The female offender population is just becoming more violent globally.”
To address this, he said they are instituting controls that were historically more common at high-level male prisons.
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As the offenders have become more violent, use of force by staff also increased by 34.7 percent last year, according to the inspection.
“The overwhelming majority of their use of force incidents are what we call ‘reactive uses of force,’” he said. “That’s where if the staff don’t take action, somebody is going to get hurt.”
He said only six staff members received any kind of injuries in these incident, and zero inmates required medical treatment.
State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, has advocated for improved conditions at the prison and was pleased to see improvements in some of these areas, though he noted there are “ongoing issues.”
“Violence obviously is an issue they need to work on,” he said. “It seems to be pretty high, so I hope the director (of state prisons) and the warden there will work on that.”
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Prior to June, the last CIIC inspection of DCI was in October 2015 and highlighted the prison’s progress in addressing concerns of inappropriate staff-inmate relationships, increased use of force and lacking mental health programs.
This year’s inspection didn’t mention staff-inmate relationships. It did note that of inmates who were surveyed, 25 reported experiencing sexual harassment and eight reported sexual abuse from a staff member.
This is half the number of sexual encounters reported in 2015. Inspections that year noted 18 staff members, including an investigator and a chaplain, had been forced to resign due to allegations of inappropriate relationships with inmates. In one case guards found underwear snuck into the facility allegedly by a guard.
Voorhies said zero staff members were terminated last year for inappropriate staff-inmate relationships; he credits Warden Wanza Jackson for putting leadership in place to address that problem.
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The June 2017 recent report noted that mental health staffing and services improved from the last inspection. Since June 2016, there were six suicide attempts but no completed suicides, the report notes.
“I think we’re going to continue to see improvements in Dayton,” Voorhies said.
The CIIC is a committee of state lawmakers tasked with monitoring conditions at Ohio’s prisons. The agency has been in a state of limbo since its last director left in mid-2016; some state leaders have suggested doing away with it.
Antani noted that prisons are a major part of the state budget, and said he hopes the CIIC gets a new director.
“Hopefully we will retain and improve on it,” Antani said, “Maintaining legislative oversight of how almost 10 percent of the general fund is spent is very important.”
MORE FROM THIS REPORTER:
FULL DCI INSPECTION REPORT: