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Guard union plans picket over drug ‘epidemic’ at Lucasville prison

Randy Ludlow The Columbus Dispatch @RandyLudlow

Alleging contract violations and an “all-time high” of inmates obtaining drugs, the union representing corrections officers has scheduled a May 31 picket at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville. The notice of intent to picket filed by the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association with the State Employment Relations Board states that “management has blatantly violated the contract on multiple occasions.”

The notice further alleges “the amount of illegal drugs in the institution is at an all-time high and management is covering up the number of failed drug tests to avoid having to report the numbers” to higher ups at the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

“This drug epidemic in this prison is leading to a more dangerous and volatile work environment,” the notice states of conditions at the maximum-security prison that also houses Ohio’s lethal-injection chamber. The document also accuses prison officials of allowing a “violent workplace incident” involving a management employee and a union employee to go unpunished.

Comment was being sought from state prison officials early this afternoon. OCSEA spokesman Sally Meckling also could not immediately provide other details. Lucasville was the site of the Easter Sunday riot in 1993 in which prisoners held an area of the prison for 10 days while killing a corrections officer and nine inmates.

A report last year by the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee ranked the Lucasville prison as the state’ most violent amid gang activity, high drug-use rates and inmate complaints about use of force by corrections officers. The prison — Ohio’s primary maximum-security institution — is consistently the most violent in the state in inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff assaults. It was at the center of a restructuring plan in which the most difficult and violent inmates are moved there. There were 409 violent incidents at the prison in 2015 — 152 assaults on staff members and 257 on other inmates. That compares with 395 total assaults in 2014 and 440 in 2013.

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