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No Workers' Compensation for Ohio Slave Laborers

An attempt by Ohio prisons to manufacture items for retail business had to be cancelled because it could not provide Workers' Compensation insurance for prisoners. State Inspector General Thomas P. Charles says the state is not at fault. Rather, the intervention of the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance has made the project untenable.

For a time, the federal Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program allowed incarcerated workers to produce items for outside businesses. Daniel L. Dooley filed against the state alleging that the project was not providing workers' compensation for the prisoners. Dooley manages the P.I.E. project at the Women's Reformatory in Marysville, Ohio.

Complications with the project began in 1998 when a federal audit revealed that state employment laws precluded prison compliance. Certification for the project first came in 1995 and prisoners made jewelry from hardware. Later, prisoners manufactured drop cloths and tent packs.

Initially, federal officials who gave the state 28 months to solve the problem overlooked compliance violations. Unable to comply, the state shut down the program in March 2000, a month before its certification was cancelled.

Source: Associated Press .

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