Safer Prisons

CRIMINALS ARE in prison for just that reason — they are criminals.

That doesn’t mean, however, they should be placed in harm’s way during their incarceration.

That is why we believe a new state corrections initiative to curb prison violence is a healthy proposal.

Gang violence is an ever-growing problem in Ohio lockups. Consequently, the state’s 50,000 inmates have been warned that they could face stiffer punishments if they fight with staff or one another.

It has been reported that 20 percent of the state’s inmates are affiliated with gangs, but almost 90 percent of most group fights or attacks last year involved at least one gang member.

That is a disturbing disjointed set of numbers. Moreover, nearly half of the 759 prisoners in large fights were gang members.

It bears out the impact gangs are having behind walls.

To their credit, state corrections officials are taking steps to reduce such problems.

Gang leaders are now calling special isolation cells home. It is a belief that such housing tactics serve to quell violence.

In addition, a larger number of corrections officers have been put in place to monitor inmates affiliated with gangs in hopes of heading off problems before they raise their ugly heads.

One new step to curb gang violence is the transfer of troublesome inmates to controlled units. The first is operational and has received 80 inmates since August.

When totally up and running, there will be three controlled units, capable of isolating 300 problem inmates.

The aforementioned steps to thwart gangs and the painful repercussions they yield are viable and will likely have some positive effects.

We commend state corrections officials for implementing these steps. We are uncertain, however, if not more is needed.