A Personal Story From Inside Ohio’s Private Prison System

Recently a woman from our region contacted me in regards to my stance concerning private prisons. She agreed with my points about how fundamentally corrupt the whole operating premise of incarceration for profit is, and how destructive to people in practice these corporate prisons can be. In fact, she knows this through firsthand experience, having shared with me a powerful, enlightening, and disturbing story about her own dealings with these institutions in regards to the treatment, and even unknown fate, of her son.

I’m sharing her note with you here because this is something we should all be aware of and which is being done in our name, and with our tax dollars. (I am posting this with the writer’s permission and support, and with the names and specific locations redacted in order to protect the person incarcerated from additional retaliatory abuse). We cannot begin to change this situation unless we understand what is happening. Only then can we effectively argue for necessary reforms, and the abolition of incarceration-for-profit as a business model in our economy and society. This is something I plan on doing when serving as your representative in our Statehouse.

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Good day Ms. McCarthy.

I am a registered [voter] and your stance against private prisons excited me. I am a veteran and a taxpaying citizen. Unfortunately, my son became addicted to opioids and turned to selling to support his habit. He has been in a private prison [in Ohio] for a very long year now. Every time I complain he is thrown in segregation, and there is a free-for-all in there…drugs, gangs, violence. He was almost killed in January after being attacked by a gang, and Care Flight’ed after the staff ignored his injuries.

My son has never been in prison before, but boy did I learn fast how awful a private prison is. They are overcrowded. Staff are paid poorly and undertrained, and I have literally spent hundreds of dollars on clothing and food. I complained about him being put back in the same exact unit after almost being killed rather than being transferred, and now the staff allows the inmates to steal all his belongings. He was just put into segregation again after my complaints about a correction officer damaging his TV. This is something I pay for because there is a huge waiting list for even GED classes. The last time he was put in set [administrative segregation, or ‘the hole’ as it is sometimes referred to] was approximately 4 weeks ago, and every bit of clothing was stolen, rather than the COs securing his belongings. I spent hundreds of dollars through a company that I have to shop through to get him basics; things like underwear, socks, sweats, shoes. I spoke with him yesterday and once again he begged the COs to secure his belongings because he was thrown in seg for a minor infraction-being out of place. He will come out in 21 days with a pair of prison issued underwear and nothing else because once again everything was stolen because his belongings were not secured, and his bunk is right in front of the COs office. I will have the privilege of spending hundreds of dollars again in 4 months as he is also on package restriction for 90 days.

I want my son to get help. I hoped he would have access to drug abuse counseling, classes, etc. But I fear he will be out in a few years far worse than when he went in. He now has a huge scar on his face after the surgeries he had to have, and I am terrified he won’t come home at all. You have my vote for this reason. Thank you so much and God bless you!