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Union: Inmate suspected in attack in wrong security level

February 23, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio inmate suspected of repeatedly stabbing a guard was at a lower security level than required when the assault happened, according to the head of the union representing state prison guards.

Prisoner Casey Pigge was supposed to be held at the highest-security level but was in a lower security area when the attacked happened at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, said Christopher Mabe president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association.

Pigge is suspected of stabbing corrections officer Matthew Mathias in the prison’s infirmary Tuesday morning. Pigge was transferred to the state supermax prison in Youngstown after the attack. It does not appear Pigge has an attorney, which is not uncommon in internal prison incidents before formal charges are filed.

On the higher level, “there’s more restricted movement, there’s more restraints, there’s more security precautions,” Mabe said.

Pigge is a three-time convicted killer, including the slayings of fellow inmates in separate events in 2016 and last year.

Mathias remains hospitalized on a ventilator while doctors work to get him breathing on his own again, according to an update from the guard’s wife released by Sally Meckling, a spokeswoman for the corrections’ officer union.

Mabe said he contacted Republican Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday to request a meeting about the incident and the union’s concerns with violence in the prisons. Kasich spokesman Jon Keeling declined comment.

Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith wouldn’t comment on the union’s security level allegations. She said the agency has committed to working with the union on the investigation. Prison officials contacted the union Wednesday to discuss its concerns, Smith said.

The union will have input into the agency’s review of the attack, Smith said. “The safety and security of our staff is our top priority,” she said.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/andrew-welsh-huggins

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