by David Patterson | October 22, 2015
A convicted double-murderer took a female corrections officer hostage for 11 hours in an Ohio prison Oct. 18 after she had been working in a population of inmates but alone at her post. The officer was released by the inmate later that night with unspecified injuries.
The officer’s union, the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA)/AFSCME Local 11, has called for an immediate stop to a practice called “pull and move,” not only because it is unsafe, but also because it is a direct violation of an agreement the state had with the union. OCSEA already has filed one grievance over the policy. “Pull and move” pulls correction officers off permanent posts that can be closed when not needed but can leave areas understaffed.
“Through the years, they’ve cut, cut, cut and expected us to do more with less,” said Doug Mosier, an OCSEA leader and local union president at Mansfield Correctional Institution (ManCI), where the incident occurred. “You can’t run an operation if you can’t have enough staff.”
“We have been saying for far too long that Ohio’s prisons are seriously understaffed,” said Christopher Mabe, OCSEA president and an AFSCME International vice president. “The staffing levels just don’t meet the needs of the operations. This incident is clear and convincing evidence of that.”
“We have too many officers getting caught alone by predator inmates,” Mabe said. “When we see serious injuries to staff, it is often because they have been caught alone.”
According to the Mansfield News Journal, an officer on a utility post in the library was pulled to another post that Sunday to provide religious programming, leaving his partner alone in the library with inmates. A permanent post at the chapel was eliminated several years ago to cut costs.
“At the time they pulled the officer, all activity should have ceased in the library, but it didn’t. Obviously, the inmate saw an opportunity and took it,” said Mosier.
Violence has increased at Level 3 prisons, including ManCI, according to the state’s latest report. In fact, violence levels at the facility are on track to double this year from 2014, according to OCSEA.
“Yesterday’s incident is a grim reminder of how dangerous Ohio’s prisons continue to be. It is thanks to the courage of that officer, as well as the dedication of our special teams, that the incident was resolved without the officer being critically harmed,” Mabe said.
Previous: Child Care Providers Seek Voice