Ohio Supreme Court asks lawmakers to probe state prison abuse claims

Two inmates alleged physical and mental abuse, threats and harassment and the use of racial slurs by COs


By Randy Ludlow
The Columbus Dispatch

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor is asking a legislative committee to investigate two inmates' allegations of abuse by corrections officers at the Madison Correctional Institution.

In an unusual move, the court on Friday dismissed handwritten writs filed by the prisoners against state officials, but a justice wrote that O'Connor had forwarded their complaints to the joint House-Senate Correctional Institution Inspection Committee.

In actions filed against Department of Rehabilitation and Correction officials in November, the pair of prisoners alleged physical and mental abuse, threats and harassment and the use of racial slurs by corrections officers.

In a March 11 letter to Sen. Nathan Manning, R- North Ridgeville, O'Connor wrote that if the inmates' complaints are true, "there is a very serious problem in the Department of Corrections.

"The level of maltreatment and violence meted out to the inmates is disturbing. I hesitate to even send this referral for fear that the inmates will be exposing themselves to retaliation by virtue of their contact with the Court," she wrote in asking the committee "take the appropriate action."

The court could not move on the cases of the prisoners due to legal deficiencies, but it does not mean their allegations "have fallen on deaf ears," Justice Michael Donnelly wrote in an opinion accompanying one of the dismissals.

"I applaud Chief Justice O’Connor’s action of requesting that the CIIC investigate the allegations raised in this matter," Donnelly wrote.

The inmates at the prison west of Columbus whose complaints of mistreatment have been forwarded to state lawmakers are Jake W. Faulkner III, 45, and James M. Cline, 53.

Faulkner is serving a near-seven-year sentence from Wood and Hancock counties for drug trafficking and other charges.

Cline is serving a 58-year sentence from Champaign County for 40 counts of telephone and internet harassment of women who spurned his interest, intimidation of victims, menacing and conspiracy to aggravated arson.

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(c)2021 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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