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Ohio Death Row Moving to Supermax
In March 2005, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DORC) announced that Ohio’s 193 death row prisoners would be moved from the Mansfield Correctional Institute (MCI) to the state’s Supermax facility, the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP), to save millions of dollars.
OSP warden Marc Houk claims the new environment will be less restrictive than normal OSP conditions and comparable to the current death row MCI conditions (where death row was moved to after the 1993 riots at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville). The proposed differences at OSP include dayroom access, interactions with other death row prisoners, outdoor exercise, more time outside OSP’s smaller cells, access to programs and religious services, and up to 15 visitors per month—all of which are denied other OSP prisoners.
ACLU attorney Staughton Lynd, counsel in the Supermax conditions case in the United States Supreme Court (see accompanying article “Supreme Court Finds Ohio Supermax Placement Policy Constitutional”), is not convinced the conditions will be similar. Lynd says the real reason for the move is to fill OSP which, as of June 7, 2005, held 269 prisoners with 235 vacant cells.
Lynd also states that the new supreme court ruling does not provide for the “wholesale transfer to OSP of an entire category of prisoners without assessing the security risk presented by a particular individual prisoner” and complying with the other due process requirements of the new placement policy 111-07.
The state delayed the move pending the outcome of an ACLU action filed against the move. In October 2005, the trial court denied the prisoners’ motion. PLN will report the decision in detail in an upcoming issue.
Source: Associated Press
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