Press Releases

 

Ohio expands medication assisted treatment offered to incarcerated population

 

(GRAFTON, Ohio)— Today, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director Annette Chambers-Smith and Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Director Lori Criss attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new opiate treatment program at Lorain Correctional Institution (LorCI).

 

OhioMHAS, the recovery services provider for Ohio’s prisons, secured a $2.8 million, two-year contract with Community Medical Services (CMS) that expands the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program currently offered. The expansion provides a continuum of care for individuals with opiate use disorders across the criminal justice system.

 

Under this new contract, incarcerated adults can start MAT treatment in the form of Methadone and Buprenorphine as soon as they arrive at a state prison, expanding upon the currently provided continuation of community treatment and reentry-based MAT services. Additional treatment services such as cognitive-behavioral programming will continue to be provided by OhioMHAS clinicians.

 

“Medication assisted treatment is an important tool in effectively fighting this disease,” stated Director Chambers-Smith.  “This is ultimately about providing the same standard of care to our people that everyone else enjoys.  Keeping people in recovery successfully will lead to reduced recidivism and a safer Ohio.”

 

“Collaboration between the behavioral health and criminal justice systems is vital to helping Ohioans get well and stay well,” said OhioMHAS Director Lori Criss. “By connecting men and women with effective clinical treatments inside these institutions, they are more likely to make positive life changes important to their recovery and success upon reentry to their communities.”

 

By October 1, 2022, all of Ohio’s incarcerated population will have the access to the induction of MAT services.

 

Photo attached:  (left to right) – OhioMHAS Director Lori Criss, ODRC Director Annette Chambers-Smith, LorCI Warden Jennifer Gillece Black, and Senator Nathan Manning attended the ribbon cutting event today for the opiate treatment program at the Lorain Correctional Institution.  Senator Manning presented a proclamation from the Ohio Senate congratulating the facility on this significant accomplishment.

 

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MEDIA ADVISORY:                                                                                                                   MEDIA CONTACTS:

September 1, 2022                                                                                     JoEllen Smith, ODRC: (614) 214-4510

                                                                                                         Eric Wanderslaben, OHMHAS: (614) 359-6754

 

 

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Opiate Treatment Center at Lorain Correctional Institution

 

(GRAFTON, Ohio) – Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director Annette Chambers-Smith and Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Director Lori Criss will attend a ribbon-cutting event on Friday for the new opiate treatment program at the Lorain Correctional Institution.

 

ODRC, in partnership with OhioMHAS, has secured a two-year contract with Community Medical Services (CMS) that will expand the existing medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program to include all forms of MAT.  The $2.8 million, two-year contract is funded through an earmark in OHMHAS’ most recent biennial budget which provides money for substance use treatment programs.  This contract will allow for the induction of new patients for MAT, expanding upon the currently provided continuation of community treatment and reentry-based MAT services.

 

In the coming weeks, all of Ohio’s incarcerated population will have access to the induction of MAT services.

 

WHO:

Annette Chambers-Smith, Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Lori Criss, Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

 

WHERE:

Lorain Correctional Institution

2075 Avon Belden Rd, Grafton, OH 44044

 

WHEN:

Friday, September 2, 2022

10:30 a.m.

 

NOTE: Media should send RSVPs to JoEllen Smith (JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us) by close of business Thursday, September 1, 2022.

 

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For Immediate Release | August 26, 2022      

Contact: JoEllen Smith | JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us | (614) 752-1150                                                                                       

All of Ohio Prisons Offering Wide Range of Educational Opportunities

Educational Programs Range from GED to College Level Programming

(Columbus, Ohio)- As the end of the summer approaches and Ohioans are gearing up for back-to-school, the state’s prisons are emphasizing the importance of providing educational opportunities to the incarcerated population. 

The Ohio Central School System (OCSS) serves as the school system for the state’s prisons.  It is one of the largest school systems in the state, serving thousands of incarcerated individuals each year. Recently a new emphasis has been placed on providing educational opportunities to individuals in high security prisons and maximizing the use of technology to offer coursework using Chromebooks.

“Providing an avenue for the men and women in our prisons to better themselves is one of the best things we can do to help them succeed,” said ODRC Director Annette Chambers-Smith.  “Expanding our delivery and the number of people who have access to education while in prison is a rehabilitative necessity.”

OCSS has long served the Ohio prison system offering basic education, high school diplomas, apprenticeships and skilled trades, and post-secondary education, partnering with six Ohio-based colleges and universities.  Last year, ODRC expanded college to include all high security prisons, making Ohio one of only a few states in the country to have college available at all facilities. 

“We believe in the rehabilitative power of education, and the people who need that the most are often in our high security prisons,” said Director Chambers-Smith.

Building on this foundation, Director Chambers-Smith and OCSS Superintendent Jennifer Sanders spearheaded an effort to deploy 10,000 Chromebooks to prisons across the state. The Chromebooks, purchased with federal CARES Act money, allowed for remote learning during the pandemic and create personalized and modern educational opportunities.  In addition, a secure wireless network was built to provide access to education beyond the walls of the schools.  The network is the foundation for the Chromebook access and was expanded to housing units, providing digital opportunities to other program areas such as mental health and recovery services. 

The Ohio Central School System served thousands of incarcerated adults last fiscal year (FY 2022):

  • 816 students earned high school equivalency certifications.
  • 1,175 students earned career technical education certifications.
  • 546 students earned apprenticeship certifications.
  • 3,209 students earned advanced job training (college) certifications or degrees.

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For Immediate Release

January 13, 2022                                        

Contact: JoEllen Smith

(614) 214-4510 | JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us 

Ohio Prison System to Implement Body-Worn Cameras

(Columbus, OH)  Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) Director Annette Chambers-Smith announced today that the process to outfit agency prison and parole staff with body-worn cameras is now underway.

The first phase of implementation started last month and included staff training and the deployment of approximately 550 body-worn cameras for security supervisors in all of Ohio’s prisons.   

“These cameras will supplement our existing stationary camera systems and will help to capture areas we otherwise may not be able to see,” said Director Chambers-Smith.  “This is ultimately about safety, transparency and accountability for everyone who works or lives in our prisons.”

The implementation plan includes the deployment of an additional 4,550 cameras which will be assigned to specifically-identified prison posts and individual parole officers in the Adult Parole Authority. The goal is to complete the full roll out of the body-worn cameras throughout the first half of 2022. 

Director Chambers-Smith announced a pilot project to test the use of body cameras in Ohio’s prisons in June 2021.  The pilot concluded in October and involved two prisons and two Adult Parole Authority regions.  During this time, DRC also connected with other state correctional and law enforcement agencies, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol, to identify best practices for body camera use. 

The body-worn camera systems, including equipment and storage, will be funded through combination of federal CARES Act money approved by the Controlling Board, grant funding from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance, and DRC’s operating budget.  The systems are expected to cost approximately $6.9 million the first year and approximately $3.2 - $3.3 million the following four years. 

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For Immediate Release 

November 16, 2021

Contact: JoEllen Smith                             

(614) 214-4510 | JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us

Governor’s Working Group on Post-Release Control to Hold Meeting

 

WHAT:  The Governor’s Working Group on Post-Release Control will hold a meeting on Monday, November 22, 2021.  Working group members and other meeting participants will meet in person and a virtual format will be provided to all other observers.  

 

Governor DeWine announced the formation of this group in 2019 to review the policies and practices of Ohio’s post-release control supervision and to make recommendations for improvement where needed (https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/media/news-and-media/102819).  

 

WHEN:                Monday, November 22, 2021

                             9:00 a.m.

 

WHERE:              Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

                              4545 Fisher Road, Columbus, OH  43228

*Media and other observers can watch the meeting through Microsoft TEAMS.

 

Media wishing to observe the meeting virtually should contact JoEllen Smith at JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us or call 614-214-4510. 

 

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For Immediate Release  

September 22, 2021

Contact: JoEllen Smith                             

JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us | (614) 214-4510

Governor’s Working Group on Post-Release Control to Hold Meeting

 

WHAT:  The Governor’s Working Group on Post-Release Control will hold a meeting on Wednesday, September 29, 2021.  Working group members and other meeting participants will meet in person and a virtual format will be provided to all other observers.  

 

Governor DeWine announced the formation of this group last year to review the policies and practices of Ohio’s post-release control supervision and to make recommendations for improvement where needed (https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/media/news-and-media/102819).  

 

WHEN:                Wednesday, September 29, 2021

                             1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

 

WHERE:              Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

                              4545 Fisher Road, Columbus, OH  43228

*Media and other observers can watch the meeting through Microsoft TEAMS.

 

Media wishing to observe the meeting virtually should RSVP to JoEllen Smith at JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us or call 614-214-4510. 

 

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For Immediate Release                                                                           

June 7, 2021

Contact:  JoEllen Smith

JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us | (614) 214-4510       

 

Ohio Prison System Launches Body Camera Pilot to Enhance Safety

(Columbus) – The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) launched a pilot initiative this week to evaluate the use and effectiveness of staff body-worn cameras in Ohio prisons and Adult Parole Authority (APA) regions.

“At DRC, our number one priority is safety, and we believe that a body-worn camera program could go far to help protect our staff, inmates, parolees, and communities as a whole,” stated DRC Director Annette Chambers-Smith. “If successful, this pilot program could expand to all state prisons and APA regions to help not only ensure a safer prison environment, but also to enhance accountability and transparency in our operations as well.”

Body cameras were deployed at the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) and Chillicothe Correctional Institution (CCI) on Monday, and the Cleveland APA and Montgomery Unit of the Dayton APA will be outfitted with cameras beginning next week. The first phase of the pilot program will run through July 30 and will include the evaluation of equipment provided by two vendors. The second phase of the pilot program will evaluate equipment by two different vendors from August 9 to October 1.

There is no cost to DRC for the pilot phases. If fully implemented, the estimated final cost for the first year of full implementation is approximately $17 million based on input from other jurisdictions where similar systems are in place. A multidisciplinary team of DRC staff developed the scope of the field trial and included input from other jurisdictions throughout the country. 

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For Immediate Release                            

February 5, 2021

Contact: JoEllen Smith

614.214.4510 | JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us

Prison Food Service Contract Offers Additional Savings, Improved Meal Options and Job Readiness Training

 

(Columbus) – Today the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) announced details of a new food-service contract that will improve meal options and career-training programs in Ohio’s prisons.

 

Through a competitive bidding process administered by the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, Aramark will continue its role of managing food services at all DRC facilities. The new contract will yield a 9.4 percent reduction in daily meal costs and a total cost-savings of $12 million over the next two years. Money saved will be reallocated to continue supporting local community corrections programs.

 

Highlights of the contract include:

  • Expansion of the In2Work program: This food service career training program was developed by Aramark to help prepare incarcerated individuals for a job in food service upon release. The expansion of the program will give more inmates opportunities for on-the-job training, scholarships, and resources to help secure employment.
  • Expansion of the Fellows program: The expansion of this program will give more incarcerated individuals the opportunity to earn minimum wage by working in food service. Salary earned helps them to meet their existing financial obligations, such as child support, and save money for their release.
  • Heart smart menu:  DRC will collaborate with the incarcerated population to maintain a menu geared toward healthy meals that are popular with those living in the prison facilities. 
  • Robust contract monitoring system:  DRC will continue its intensive contract monitoring through full-time regional monitors and day-to-day oversight by facility staff. This high level of contract monitoring allows issues or concerns to be addressed rapidly, resulting in greater policy and menu compliance.

An in-sourced proposal was also taken into consideration for the food service operations, however Aramark’s proposal provided the most cost-saving benefits while still offering quality food service and programming.

 

The new $130 million contract is effective July 1, 2021.   Since contracting with Aramark in 2013, the state of Ohio has saved approximately $120 million on the cost of food service operations.

 

The graphic below provides an overview of the food service operations contract.

 

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            

November 23, 2020

Contact: JoEllen Smith                             

JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us | (614) 214-4510

Governor’s Working Group on Post-Release Control to Hold Virtual Meeting

 

WHAT:  The Governor’s Working Group on Post-Release Control will hold a virtual meeting on Monday, November 30, 2020.   Governor DeWine announced the formation of this group last year to review the policies and practices of Ohio’s post-release control supervision and to make recommendations for improvement where needed (https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/media/news-and-media/102819).  

 

WHEN:                Monday, November 30, 2020

                             3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

 

WHERE:              Virtual meeting through Microsoft TEAMS.

 

Media wishing to attend should RSVP to JoEllen Smith at JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us or call 614-214-4510. 

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For Immediate Release

July 27, 2020    

Contact: JoEllen Smith

JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us | 614-214-4510     

Ohio Prison Director Tests Positive for COVID-19

(Columbus) – Today, Director Chambers-Smith announced to the staff at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction that she has tested positive for COVID-19.  Director Chambers-Smith was tested on Friday, July 24, 2020 after she began not feeling well.  She received her positive test result today.

 

A contact tracing has begun for staff who have been working at the Operation Support Center (OSC) and may have come in recent contact with Director Chambers-Smith (a vast majority of staff at OSC have been working from home since March).  Director Chambers-Smith has not physically been inside a prison since June 26, 2020, and has not been at OSC since last Tuesday.

 

“For months, managing COVID within Ohio’s prisons has been my single highest priority,” stated Chambers-Smith.  “While I am focusing on my health and doing what is recommended – which is to monitor my symptoms and self-quarantine, I will continue to ensure DRC is taking all necessary steps and precautions to maintain the health and safety of all of our staff and incarcerated population.  Our agency continues to be in good hands, and we are working together as a team during these challenging times.”

 

Director Chambers-Smith is currently working from and managing her symptoms at home, which are mild at this time.

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For Immediate Release

 

July 7, 2020 

Contact: JoEllen Smith,

614-214-4510 | JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us 

                             

Select Prisons in Ohio Begin Process of Reopening Visitation 

(Columbus) – Today, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) Director Annette Chambers-Smith announced the reopening of in-person visitation at select facilities. 

 

 “One of the most significant changes we made in response to COVID-19 was the suspension of in-person visitation,” stated Director Chambers-Smith.  “This decision was not reached lightly because we understand that visiting plays a key role in helping to maintain hope and support positive connections with loved ones.  The health and safety of our staff, visitors, and the incarcerated population is our primary concern as we move forward and learn how to live safely in this new reality.”

 

Six facilities have received approval to re-open outdoor-only visitation (indoor locations are established for circumstances such as inclement weather, etc.).  Visiting at Dayton Correctional Institution began last week.  Madison Correctional Institution (Zone B only), Noble Correctional Institution, and Southeastern Correctional Institution are scheduled to resume visitation tomorrow; Grafton Correctional Institution and Warren Correctional Institution are currently expected to resume visitation on July 19 and July 26, respectively. 

 

“In deciding which facilities were ready to accept visitors, several factors were taken into consideration including the current status of COVID-19 at the institutions, ongoing surveillance testing, and physical plant capabilities,” said Director Chambers-Smith. “Through our ongoing monitoring process, we will continue to closely track the virus to determine when other facilities can resume visitation and if visiting should be modified or suspended in locations where visitation is already underway.”

 

DRC’s visitation protocol was developed in alignment with Governor Mike DeWine’s Responsible RestartOhio plan and will be done gradually and with modifications and safety protocols in place, including:

 

  1. Each institution will create a written visitation plan to communicate detailed instructions to its employees.   Similarly, a JPay communication should be sent to the offender population of the activating facilities expressing details that are institution-specific.  
  2. All institutions will require staff, incarcerated adults, and visitors to wear masks at all times during the visitation process except for specifically documented legal, life, health, or safety considerations and limited documented security considerations.
  3. Institutions will provide disposable masks to the visitor(s).
  4. Physical visitation space and the discretion of the managing officer will determine the amount of daily visitation opportunities ensuring there is a minimum of six-foot distance between guest(s) and incarcerated adult groupings for social distancing purposes.   
  5. Outdoor visiting will be the primary location for visitation sessions with the indoor visiting rooms being the alternative location for other circumstances, such as inclement weather, etc. 
  6. Visitation will be limited to two visitors maximum per incarcerated adult per session.    
  7. Physical contact with visitors will not be permitted to include hugging, kissing, holding hands, or playing cards and board games.
  8. Transparent OPI mobile barriers will be introduced to separate the visitor(s) and the incarcerated adult during visitation when experiencing inclement weather and also may be used in outdoor locations. 
  9. Each facility shall install transparent barriers at the Officer’s station at front entry, visitor processing areas, and in the visiting room to create a barrier between staff and visitors.
  10. Visitors and incarcerated adults shall go through the same symptom screening process as employees (based on CDC and ODH guidance) to include each person answering questions and having a temperature check before entering the visitation area.
  11. Each facility shall adhere to the DRC Housekeeping Plan with Covid-19 Pandemic Update, issued on May 12, 2020, to thoroughly sanitize all areas of visiting between sessions.
  12. The use of vending machines is prohibited during visitation.
  13. Children under the age of 12 will not be permitted to visit during the initial activation phase and reading rooms will remain closed.
  14. Hand sanitizer shall be made available in each front entry and visiting room for all persons in the area.
  15. A list of COVID-19 symptoms will be posted in a conspicuous location such as Front Entry and the Visitation Room.
  16. The duration of each visiting session may be modified by the warden to increase the amount of visiting opportunities available to our guests.      
  17. Visits shall be managed through a system that would allow for sessions by cohort/housing unit to avoid cross-contamination. 
  18. Each facility shall coordinate operations to ensure social distancing that may include staggering of guest processing to avoid gathering in the front entry.  

 

Indoor visiting will also resume at the Ohio State Penitentiary on July 15, 2020, which because of its security level, already has established no-contact visiting procedures. 

DRC continues to work daily at implementing overall strategies to address the unprecedented challenges associated with COVID-19 within Ohio’s adult correctional facilities.  DRC’s daily COVID testing information can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 6, 2020

JoEllen Smith, (614) 752-1150, JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us 

Clemency Hearing for Death Row Inmate Gregory Lott

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Parole Board will conduct a clemency hearing for death row inmate Gregory Lott at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC), 4545 Fisher Road, Columbus, Ohio 43228.

Lott was sentenced to death out of Cuyahoga County for the 1986 murder of John McGrath.   He is scheduled for execution on May 27, 2021.

Media attending the clemency hearing must contact the DRC Office of Communications in advance.  

 

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For Immediate Release 

December 30, 2019

Governor’s Working Group on Post-Release Control to Hold Meeting

 

WHAT:            The Governor’s Working Group on Post-Release Control will hold a meeting on Monday, January 6, 2020.   Governor DeWine announced the formation of this group to review the policies and practices of Ohio’s post-release control supervision and to make recommendations for improvement where needed (https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/media/news-and-media/102819).  

 

WHEN:                 Monday, January 6, 2020

                         8:30 a.m.

 

WHERE:                The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

                         4545 Fisher Road

                         Columbus, Ohio  43228

                         Chestnut Conference Room

 

Media wishing to attend should RSVP to JoEllen Smith at JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us or call 614-214-4510. 

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