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Ohio Prison Officials Brace For Budget Cutbacks.

Dozens of state agencies are telling Ohio legislative leaders and Governor-Elect John Kasich that they will have to order drastic layoffs and other cuts in services if the looming state budget crisis forces them to trim their spending by 10%. The scenario from the corrections department is especially startling. Ohio Public Radio's Bill Cohen reports.

Prison officials project that if their agency takes a ten percent hit, they'd have to lay off one in six employees, close an unnamed number of prisons, put new inmate housing in areas now reserved for recreation and visitation and perhaps have some inmates sleep in shifts so two inmates would share the same bed.

Assistant Corrections Chief Linda James, warns all those changes would make the remaining prisons not just 32 percent overcrowded, as they are now, but 74 percent over capacity. She says each guard would have to look after more inmates, a recipe for heightened tensions and perhaps a repeat of the deadly 1993 Lucasville prison riot.

"We'd have an inmate to correction officer ratio would increase to 8 to one and that is close to where we were when the Lucasville riot occurred. Right now we have a 6 to one." Says James

Bill Cohen Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau