TOLEDO, Ohio – Ohio will not be relocating its death row for the third time in little more than a decade, state officials said Friday.
A shift in population strategies makes the move from Chillicothe in southern Ohio to a newer prison in Toledo unnecessary, according to the prisons department.
The move announced last October and expected to be finished before the end of last year was opposed by the union representing Ohio prison guards. A death row inmate who killed himself in March didn't want to make the move to a new prison and was upset about a legal setback, records showed.
But the change of plans came about because the state found it could shift some high-security inmates to a privately operated prison in Youngstown and turn its Toledo prison into a maximum-security facility, said Ed Voorhies, operations director for the state prisons department.
Abandoning the move will allow the prison system to reduce inmate density in high level security prisons, he said.
Prison officials said last year they hoped the move to Toledo would help reduce crowding at the Chillicothe prison and other sites across the state and provide space that is more suited to death row inmates with physical and mobility limitations, including those in wheelchairs.
There are 139 inmates on death row, and the average age is around 50.
Death row was moved from the supermax prison in Youngstown, where it had been since 2005, to the Chillicothe Correctional Institution at the beginning of 2012. Executions are carried out at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, which is much closer to the current death row.
The Toledo Correctional Institution will become a maximum-security facility and hold higher-security inmates who require more supervision.
The prison already has added more guards to deal with the additional higher-security inmates, Voorhies said.
An area for lower-level offenders will be closing at the Toledo prison in November and new inmates will be moved in shortly afterward, he said. About 200 of the higher-security inmates already are being housed in Toledo.