Press Releases

Visiting: If the Ohio Public Health Advisory System determines the county that a currently reopened facility resides in to be in a level 3 or 4 public emergency, then visiting will once again be suspended at that facility.

 

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

JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us

614.214.4510

 

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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July 27, 2020                                                                    For Immediate Release

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. 

 

 

 

July 7, 2020                                                                                              For Immediate Release

Contact: JoEllen Smith, JoEllen.Smith@odrc.state.oh.us 

614-214-4510                                

 

 

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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February 6, 2020

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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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December 30, 2019

For Immediate Release 

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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December 13, 2019

For Immediate Release

 

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 Friday, December 20, 2019.   Governor DeWine announced the formation of this group last month 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:             Friday, December 20, 2019

                          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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November 29, 2019

For Immediate Release

 

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 Friday, December 6, 2019.   Governor DeWine announced the formation of this group last month 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:             Friday, December 6, 2019

                          8:30 a.m.

 

WHERE:          The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

                          4545 Fisher Road

                          Columbus, Ohio  43228

                             Room TBD

 

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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November 22, 2019

For Immediate Release

 

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

 

WHAT:            The Governor’s Working Group on Post-Release Control will hold its first meeting.   Governor DeWine announced the formation of this group last month 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 25, 2019

                          9:00 a.m.

 

WHERE:          The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

                          4545 Fisher Road

                          Columbus, Ohio  43228

First Floor, Parole Board 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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