COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The operator of the nation's first privately owned state prison is working to correct dozens of safety, health and security issues uncovered in a recent audit.
Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America has been firmly rebuked by Ohio officials for conditions identified at Lake Erie Correctional Facility, in Conneaut along the shores of Lake Erie, during the September management review.
The audit report, released to The Associated Press on Friday, said cells were dirty, inmates lacked clean laundry and blankets and sometimes beds, pots and pans weren't clean. It said doors were standing open and the whereabouts of some keys was unclear.
Auditors also found black spots and mildew in showers, an unmarked urine specimen on a desk and backed-up or inoperable water fountains. The report said inmates operated a meat slicer with no safety guards and feeding lines took several hours.
"Let me just say that these audit results are unacceptable and CCA knows how strongly Ohio believes that," said JoEllen Culp, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. "It's not unusual for a management change to create issues, we understand that, but these results go beyond that, and they've been made aware that Ohio will not tolerate them."
CCA purchased the prison from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in a deal worth $72.7 million.
CCA has built a 30-year reputation on "not just meeting but exceeding the expectations of our government partners, and we take it very seriously when we do not meet those expectations," spokesman Steve Owen said.
The company is taking corrective steps to ensure the facility meets state and national standards and will meet regularly with ODRC staff and officials, he said.
The department and the company are working together ahead of an accreditation review by the American Correctional Association scheduled for December, Culp said.
State auditors found that most ACA standards were being met at the facility but compliance with state standards was less than 67 percent.
The audit indicated that staff and inmates feel unsafe at the facility, which changed hands on New Year's Eve.
"Some staff expressed safety concerns due to low staffing and numbers and not having enough coverage," the report said.
Staffers said they didn't have time to prepare food and wash dishes using state protocols, and auditors said there was a high probability some records were being falsified. Inmates complained of no laundry, linen or cell cleaning provided and insufficient time to take showers and reported they felt staffers had little control over some situations.
The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association sued over the privatization and sought restoration of union prison jobs in July.