Private Ohio Prison Settles Lawsuit
AMY BETH GRAVES
Mar. 03, 1999
CLEVELAND (AP) _ About 1,900 inmates in Ohio's only private prison would split $1.65 million under a settlement of their lawsuit that claimed guards used excessive force and that the facility improperly housed maximum-security prisoners.
The settlement, reached Monday in federal court in Akron, also calls for the prison's owner, Corrections Corporation of America, to pay $130,000 a year to hire a monitor to oversee the facility in Youngstown.
A judge must approve the settlement.
``We're pretty happy. When you balance it all out, it's a pretty fair settlement because it ensures permanent reform to make the prison safe and provide adequate medical care,'' said Alphonse Gerhardstein, the attorney representing the inmates.
CCA, based in Nashville, Tenn., denied wrongdoing.
Three inmates sued CCA in August 1997, claiming the 3-month-old Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, which was built to handle medium-security inmates, was unsafe and that medical treatment was inadequate.
After the lawsuit became a class action, two inmates were killed by fellow prisoners. A Justice Department report said staff members had used ``unnecessarily harsh and humiliating procedures'' during inmate searches after the killings.
Last summer the prison made several security and personnel changes after six inmates escaped. Their breakout prompted a series of legislative hearings and a proposal to ban maximum-security inmates at private prisons in Ohio.
The prison also transferred out 803 inmates that were reclassified maximum security, according to Youngstown Mayor George McKelvey.