Friday, November 09, 2001

Audit faults prison spending

Millions for food, schooling questioned in report out today

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — The state spent $2.8 million on college classes for inmates for whom eligibility documentation either didn't exist or showed they were ineligible or didn't attend class, according to a report to be released today.

        The state also paid a private food-service company $2.08 million more for meals served to inmates than the state's contract with the company required, according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Associated Press.

        The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction should negotiate with colleges and universities that were paid for undocumented inmates to recover the money, says the report by State Auditor Jim Petro.

        A review of the state's college program by the Associated Press in May showed the state was unable to verify whether dozens of inmates ever took the college classes that earned them early release from Belmont Correctional Institution in St. Clairsville.

        Neither Mr. Petro nor the prisons department would comment.

        The audit has two parts. The first is an investigation of a contract between the state and Oakbrook, Ill.-based Aramark to provide meals to inmates at Noble Correctional Institution in Caldwell.

        The second part is an investigation of the prison system's Ohio Central School System.


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