Wednesday, 28 December 2011 17:03

Art display reveals the human side of prisoners


Diana Rodriguez stands in front of artwork made a prisoner named Raymond Towler in The Federal Public Defender's office.

Diana Rodriguez stands in front of artwork made a prisoner named Raymond Towler in The Federal Public Defender's office. THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT

For much of his adult life, Raymond Towler was known by a number.

Released last year from Lorain Correctional Institution after a DNA test exonerated him of a rape for which he spent nearly 29 years behind bars, Mr. Towler said many of those days he spent trying to feel human.

Painting helped him accomplish that.

Several of the oil paintings the Cleveland native created while enduring his life behind bars are now on display in the federal public defender's office in downtown Toledo. His are among several pieces by inmates in Ohio's prison system that are on display in the Adams Street office.

"I was forced to use my talents to get by, to survive," Mr. Towler said during a recent open house. "I think an exhibit like this is important to humanize these guys who are otherwise just another number."

Drawings and paintings created in a variety of mediums line the walls in the office. Next to each piece is the artist's name and the name of the work. The reason the artist is in prison is not listed.

Published in Prisoner Support
Wednesday, 28 December 2011 16:33

Courts won’t give up on fines

Judges determined to collect old fees despite a plan to clear ledgers.

COLUMBUSOhio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor says judges and clerks of court will continue to aggressively try to collect unpaid court fines and costs, even if the legislature passes a new bill.House Bill 247 passed the Ohio House by a vote of 92-0 last week, it would allow judges to declare old debts uncollectible and allow them to take them off their ledgers. The bill was introduced in the Senate on Thursday.

Published in Prison Legal News
Wednesday, 28 December 2011 16:32

Dogs enter local prison, emerge as good citizens


Two Toledo Correctional inmates shown training a dog
Toledo Correctional Institution inmates Frankie Robinson, left, and Jason Schmidt work with Moose, a boxer, at a canine training session of Prisoners Helping Dogs

OHIO - When you meet Pudgie, a resident of the Lucas County Dog Warden's pound who is looking for a home, it quickly becomes obvious there's something different about him.

While many of the other dogs bark and jump excitedly when spoken to, he's calm. It's as if he's waiting to hear what you have to say. He wants to know if you want him to sit, stay, come, heel, or perhaps "Give me five."

Published in Prisoner Support

AKRON, Ohio - Bianca Brown thought she understood all the consequences for pleading guilty to felony theft and forgery charges.

She knew about the suspended prison sentence and the terms of her probation. She didn't realize how that plea would forever alter her job prospects.

The 23-year-old Akron woman nat only faces difficulty getting a job because many employers won't look beyond her criminal record, but she also cannot legally be hired for many positions under Ohio law because of her conviction.

She can't work as a bingo operator. Or an emergency medical technician. Or at a nursing home caring for adults. Or at any county developmental disabilities board. Or hold any classified job with the state Department of Youth Services and many other state agencies.

The list goes on and on.

Published in Prison Legal News

Monday, July 11, 2011  03:06 AM


Franklinton, Ohio - The living-room wall of the Marie Celeste Center is dominated by a striking image of three faceless women walking arm in arm.

"It represents our need to find out who we are," said Marie Celeste Hammond, an ex-offender and the founder of the transitional home for women leaving prison. The center that bears her name is one of the few facilities of its kind in the area.

Female ex-offenders must deal with survival before identity as they return to a world that is often unwelcoming. Like their male counterparts, they usually walk out of prison with no money, possessions, home or job - and often without family support.

Published in Prisoner Support
Friday, 15 July 2011 01:04

3 to bid on five of state's prisons


Private operators seek to buy, run penal facilities

Saturday, July 2, 2011  03:07 AM

By Alan Johnson


Ohio taxpayers now know who wants to buy five state prisons, but they won't find out what kind of a deal they're getting until it's done.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction received bid proposals yesterday from three private prison operators, including one where Gary C. Mohr, the state prisons director, previously worked, and another that now runs two state-owned prisons. They are the three largest private prison operators in the U.S.

They are interested in buying and operating one or more of five prisons put up for sale in the new state budget. The two-year, $55.8 billion budget took effect yesterday.

Published in Current Events

Ohio Governor John Kasich talking to reporters
Ohio Governor John Kasich.  Photographer: David Maxwell/Bloomberg
Ohio Governor John Kasich proposed a $55.5 billion biennial spending plan that calls for selling five prisons and issuing bonds for economic development backed by liquor-distribution profits in what he called “the jobs budget.”

“We’re creating a platform for growth, for job creation, for resurgence of a state,” Kasich told reporters today during a briefing after releasing his budget proposal for the nation’s seventh-largest state. Ohio lost 610,000 jobs during the past decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.U.S. state budget deficits that may reach $125 billion in the next fiscal year are forcing governors to turn to banks and builders to help lease or sell assets ranging from turnpikes and lotteries to liquor stores while seeking investors in bridges, roads and other public facilities.Kasich, 58, a Republican who took office in January, had promised not to raise taxes to address a projected $8 billion shortfall from current revenue levels. His plan includes “significant reductions” for most agencies while increasing general-revenue spending by 1 percent in the fiscal year that starts July 1, and by 6 percent in the second year, said Tim Keen, the budget director.

Published in Current Events

Published: Sun, May 8, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

This past week the Ohio House of Representatives passed a measure to reduce the size of the state’s prison population and the enormous cost of running America’s sixth largest prison system.

The state currently houses approximately 51,000 offenders with capacity for only 38,389 inmates. Those numbers only scratch the surface in terms of the magnitude of Ohio’s prison problem. One in 25 adults in Ohio is either in prison or under community supervision.

Published in Prison Legal News

By Laura A. Bischoff, Columbus Bureau Updated 12:43 AM Sunday, May 15, 20

Ohio State Prison Inmate receiving treatment at Pickaway CC
Jim Witmer/Staff - Inmate Terry Woods is receiving medical treatment at Pickaway Correctional Center. Health care costs for Ohio's 51,000 inmates has nearly doubled in a decade and now costs around $4,400 per inmate.
An Ohio State Inmate receiving medical attention in Ohio State University Medical Center
Jim Witmer/Staff - Nurse Robert Twomley works with inmate Kelly Slone at the OSU Medical Center while a corrections officer holds leg shackles.
An aging Ohio State Inmate is being tend to at their Correction Medical Center in Columbus.
Jim Witmer/Staff - Hospital aide Melissa Milligan dresses nursing home inmate James Davis at the Corrections Medical Center in Columbus.

COLUMBUS,OHIO — In the last 10 months, just six patients at the Ohio State University Medical Center ran up more than $3.9 million in hospital charges — all billed to state taxpayers.

Each one suffered from conditions such as cancer, heart failure and pulmonary disease that could have killed them without 24-hour medical care.

And each one has something else in common beyond their free medical care and potentially fatal conditions. They all are Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction inmates, some shackled to their hospital beds and watched by armed guards.

Published in Prisoner Support
May 12, 2011
Written by Mark Caudill
News Journal

MANSFIELD -- Richland County officials already have committed to do much of what Senate Bill 10 proposes.

The bill is part of a sweeping sentencing reform proposal. Senate Bill 10 would mean first-time, low-level felony offenders could not be sent to state prison. Instead, they would receive three years of probation.

Richland County's chief probation officer agrees with the spirit of the bill.

Published in Prison Legal News
Page 2 of 3