Tom Beyerlein, Group Alleges Inmate Sex Abuse; Problem Routine at Marysville, Report Says, Dayton Daily News, December 10, 2003.
COLUMBUS -- A national human rights group Wednesday
said it has "extensive and credible evidence" that the Ohio Reformatory
for Women at Marysville has "an environment consistently conducive to
sexual abuse" of inmates by guards.
Several lawmakers called upon Gov. Bob Taft and prison officials to
investigate allegations by Los Angeles-based Stop Prisoner Rape,
claiming Marysville prison staffers routinely engage in sexual
misconduct from verbal abuse to rape. Many prisoners don't report the
abuse, fearing reprisals, and those who do are placed in solitary
confinement, a form of protective custody they find punitive, according
to the group's report. Other Ohio prisons with female convicts have
similar problems, the report said.
"If there is truth in these allegations, there are going to have to be
some sweeping changes made at that prison," said Sen. Mark Mallory,
D-Cincinnati, chairman of the legislature's watchdog Correctional
Institution Inspection Committee.
Sen. Robert Hagan, D-Youngstown, said he will ask the Justice Department
to investigate the prisons if the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and
Correction doesn't do a thorough investigation.
Department Director Reginald Wilkinson said the report gives an
"extremely exaggerated" view of sexual misconduct by prison staff. "We
certainly don't tolerate any sexual assaults inside our prisons," he
said. "We've fired many staff over the years for having sexual
relationships with inmates."
He said the department will release in February a 10-point plan to deal
more effectively with sexual abuse in the prisons.
Stop Prisoner Rape's report was based on interviews with former staff
members and former inmates, as well as news reports. Among its findings:
Former inmates said staffers routinely traded
makeup, perfume and fast food for sex. Ex-staffers said consensual
sexual relationships between staff and inmates are common, even though
it's a felony for prison workers to have sex, consensual or otherwise,
Thirty-three prison employees were fired last year
for sexual misconduct.
Ex-staffers said guards looked the other way when
their colleagues engaged in sexual misconduct, and administrators took
no action when misconduct was reported to them.
"I've seen C.O.s (corrections
officers) walking down the line with their arm around inmates," former
Marysville guard Mike Coffey of Champaign County said.
At a news conference, Heather Parker of Amnesty International called on
prisons to adopt a "bill of human rights for women in prison," including
independent investigation of claims, freedom from reprisals and the right to be
guarded only by females.