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Former CO sues Ohio private prison, claiming he was forced to quit after being stabbed by inmate

The lawsuit references an inspection report detailing a surge in inmate-on-inmate and staff assaults, heightened use of force by officers and an uptick in drugs and contraband in the prison


Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown.

Gus Chan/TNS

By Adam Ferrise

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A former corrections officer sued the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, arguing that the private prison forced him to quit after he was stabbed trying to break up an inmate fight.

Michael Schneider said the prison warden forced him to choose whether to resign or be fired after the May stabbing.

Schneider filed the lawsuit last week in federal court in Cleveland, accusing the private prison’s parent company, CoreCivic of Tennessee, of wrongful termination. Schneider seeks his job back and backpay.

CoreCivic spokesman Ryan Gustin said in an email that the company doesn’t comment on active litigation. He said safety is the top priority at the prison.

“The reality is that we provide a safe, humane and appropriate environment for the individuals at NEOCC and are constantly striving to deliver an even better standard of care,” Gustin’s statement said.

The medium-security prison in Youngstown houses about 1,000 federal pretrial detainees and some who have been sentenced to prison for state crimes.

The lawsuit cites a report by the Ohio Correctional Institution Inspection Committee that showed a spike in assaults by inmates against other inmates and staff, along with increases in uses of force by officers and an increase in drugs and other contraband found in the prison.

Two former corrections officers were charged and convicted this year for bringing drugs into the prison.

The report also found that a survey of corrections officers showed that management “seldom” followed policies, including doling out consistent punishment for wrongdoing.

Gustin said CoreCivic has worked to address concerns raised by the report.

The lawsuit said Schneider regularly was isolated with inmates for long periods of time because of staffing shortages, a violation of the prison’s policy.

Schneider on May 20 ran to an inmate fight and called for back-up. When no one came, he broke up the fight and was stabbed, the lawsuit said.

Three days later, he returned to the prison to fill out worker’s compensation paperwork, and the assistant warden, Richard Phiffer, told him he could either resign or quit, the lawsuit said.

Schneider resigned “under duress and threat of” being fired, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit was filed the same day as an inmate, Devon Williams, sued the private prison and accused officers of an unprompted attack after he asked to speak to a supervisor.

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