From the Archives: The Final Horrifying Days of the Ohio Pen

John Maher
The Ohio and United States flags are lowered from the staff outside the Ohio Penitentiary on the last day of the prison's operation, September 20, 1984.

Editor’s note: In 1984, the Ohio Penitentiary—now the site of the Arena District—closed for good after nearly 150 years of housing inmates on 22 acres near Downtown Columbus. Four years earlier, Columbus Monthly staff writer John Maher explored the controversy surrounding the pen during its final days, including a lawsuit that shined a light on alarming conditions in the prison.

On a brisk September morning in 1973, 160 inmates passed through an unlocked iron gate into a wide alley that runs between a three-story stone wall and a graying six-story building nearly 140 years old. There they boarded buses destined to take them to prisons in Chillicothe, Lebanon and Marion.

Though little-moved by their situation, the convicts filing out and taking seats on those buses represented a long-awaited moment in a rather grim era: the symbolic closing of the ancient and justly maligned Ohio Penitentiary. Behind the gray walls, which as recently as 1968 had managed to contain a startling 4,000 prisoners, only an honor maintenance crew of 128 and a number of convicts with health problems confined to the James Infirmary remained. Their more hardened brethren had already been transferred to the maximum-security Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, opened in 1972. 

When the last bus drove down the alley, past death row and the huge cellblocks and out onto Spring Street, it must have seemed very final. There was already talk that the 23-acre complex was going to be razed.

Many Central Ohio residents probably believe that the prison standing on the northwest edge of Downtown Columbus was shut down permanently on that day in 1973. Glimpsed from behind glass in the controlled atmosphere of a moving car, the old Ohio Pen is just a familiar bit of what passes for scenery on U.S. 33. The place where, over decades, more than 150,000 men have been shut away seems no more remarkable or noticeable than the roadside gas stations and billboards. The whole penal complex comes in and out of the commuter's sight in less time than it takes to hum along to the chorus of a top-40 song.

The sheer walls, three feet thick at the base and wedged right up against a narrow sidewalk along the street, support an occasional eye catching guard turret, reminder of the fortress's purpose. For the most part, though, the 34-foot-high barrier serves effectively to kill, rather than pique, curiosity about what lies within.

In 1976, the Columbus Correctional Facility (CCF), as the Ohio Pen is now officially called, began accepting new prisoners. For a time, its population grew rapidly; currently there are more than 1,500 men behind bars there. That number would be even greater except that late last year, an American Civil Liberties Union-backed federal court suit spurred the state to agree to phase out CCF. The prison is to be closed—again—less than four years from now, just months short of its 150th year.

In the ACLU suit, Stewart vs. Rhodes, a number of penal experts serving as friends of the court inspected the CCF. What they found inside the walls of this urban dungeon might surprise those serene commuters outside the walls who don't even realize the old Ohio Pen is inhabited.

They found hundreds of idled prisoners without rehabilitation programs, organized recreation or even menial work. CCF prisoners were spending 22 to 23 hours each day in their barely-illuminated, frequently cold, shared 8-by-10-foot cells. Investigators reported that cells and theprisonkitchenandstoreroomwereinfestedwithrats, mice, cockroaches and flies and that in the prison's cavernous dining area, food could even be fouled by birds that nested in the rafters. Experts also pointed out conditions and administrative policies that they thought made the prison ripe for epidemics or a fiery tragedy. 

The investigators heard prisoner complaints, freely acknowledged by some guards, that prisoners were sometimes spreadeagled and chained by their arms and legs to the corners of their bunks for up to 15 days at a time. Even experts not otherwise highly critical of the Ohio penal system have called that practice outrageous.

Because of such findings, more than one federally-appointed investigator urged that the CCF be closed immediately. Such reports were just a small part of the volumes of evidence and legal arguments that the bitter court suit produced.

Just before the case was to go to trial before U.S. District Court Judge Robert Duncan, however, the state and the plaintiffs signed a court-enforced consent decree. Now the state is spending money to make extensive improvements at the CCF while gradually phasing it out by Dec. 31, 1983. Up to that date, the CCF will still be housing 1,150 prisoners.

ACLU lawyer Jean Kamp says that since the agreement, prisoners have asked, "If this place violates my constitutional rights, why do I have to live here?"

The answer is that in the Ohio penal system, there isn't anywhere else to put them.

Currently Ohio has one prison for women, five for men and two male reformatories. The institutions range from relics of bygone centuries, such as the CCF and the Mansfield Reformatory, to the modern, but still problem-plagued maximum-security prison at Lucasville.

The prisons are the province of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Director George Denton has a $190 million biennial budget to work with, but he says that is barely enough for a maintenance-level program. Denton says that with Ohio's limited budget, all the state departments are clamoring for more money, and prisons have never really been given a high priority. Recently he testified that his department's share of the state's general operating fund has shrunk from 2.2 percent five years ago to about 1.5 percent today.

According to a department master plan, its purpose is “to operate an incarceration system at the lowest possible cost with the highest degree of professionalism, using the soundest psychological techniques consistent with citizen safety and inmate rehabilitation." 

In reality, the emphasis always has been on the phrase "at the lowest possible cost.” According to department statistics, it costs about $15 per day to house and feed each adult prisoner. That's less per prisoner than about 40 states currently spend, and it's the second lowest rate of any state with more than 5,000 adult prisoners.

One reason Ohio has kept its costs so low is that it hasn't built any new prisons since Lucasville was opened in 1972. Old prisons like the Mansfield Reformatory and the CCF have been kept open, and unless federal courts order improvements in such places, few are made. John Conrad, à former prison administrator and a fellow at the Academy for Contemporary Problems in Columbus, says, "Mansfield and the CCF are ratholes down which you don't want to pour any money." He says that minor improvements don't make the prisons much better and "improvements that would make such places livable are just too costly."

Ohio also has kept its prison costs down by not increasing its number of corrections officers. Meanwhile, however, the state's prison population has been growing at an alarming rate. In 1974 the state had about7,700 adult prisoners. At that time, prison populations had been gradually declining for some time, drop ping 16 per cent between 1971 and ’74. In 1974, however, the state’s criminal code was revised. Some say that's the main reason the state now has about 13,500 adult prisoners. Others cite stiffer sentencing by image-conscious judges.

At least part of the problem has its basis in population: the number of people in the age group from which most prisoners come simply is bigger now than in the past. A higher percentage of the state's population is between the ages of 15 and 30 years than it was in the early 1970s. That age group accounts for about 27 percent of the state's general population, but about 74 percent of its prison population. Ohio's prison population is not expected to decline dramatically in this century.

Prison populations in other states also are burgeoning, a trend which reflects a rise in violent crimes.

Ohio has coped with the rapid prison population increase by doubling up prisoners in existing cells and by reopening the CCF. Ohio is under siege in the federal courts, which have recently taken an increasingly active role in deciding standards for prisoner care.

Simon Dinitz, an internationally known criminologist associated with Ohio State University, says, “I don't think Denton or anyone else wants to use it [the CCF], but if you don't, your whole system may be judged unconstitutional." He's referring to the potential problems of crowding CCF inmates into the system's other facilities.

Federal courts have found entire penal systems or the single major prisons in 19 states to constitute cruel and unusual punishment. In all, 32 states, including Ohio, are facing litigation over their prison systems. The courts have a large number of options in dealing with such systems. Often the courts set deadlines by which improvements must be made. In extreme cases—Alabama, for instance—the courts have put the entire system into receivership.

“The courts go in and if they find a cockroach they close it [a prison] down," complains Alan Norris, Westerville's conservative state representative who repeatedly has sponsored penal reform legislation. Norris's statement is an exaggeration, but the courts have put population ceilings on several Ohio prisons. In 1977, in Chapman vs. Rhodes, a federal judge ruled that the population at the SOCF had to be reduced from about 2,300 to 1,645. That ruling eventually led to greatly-swelled ranks at CCF. A federal court also ordered a temporary ceiling on the inmate population at the Marion prison. Institutions at Chillicothe and London are under fire, as is the Mansfield Reformatory.

Leading the court onslaught against the Ohio penal system is the Project on the Rights of the Institutionalized of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation Inc. The project, which started in 1976, has already forced the state to reduce the population at CCF by 200 prisoners a year until the prison is finally closed.

Norris says that Ohio's court-hobbled, space-short prison system was "in a crisis six years ago.” He says that since then the situation has just been getting worse. The problem has made strange bedfellows of Norris and liberal Cleveland Democratic Rep. Harry Lehman. For the past three sessions, the pair has sponsored legislation that would raise the tax on liquor to provide about $200 million to construct new correctional facilities. Norris and Lehman have had increasing success with the bill in the House, but have never been able to get the measure onto the Senate floor. Norris blames that on the Senate leadership, which he says doesn't want to face up to an unpopular issue which might mean a new tax.

That proposed $200 million wouldn't buy any country clubs for convicts. Lehman has a more liberal line, but Norris openly admits, "I'm not concerned about rehabilitation because it doesn't work." Norris says, however, that the choice now facing Ohioans with regard to felons is “either lock 'em up or let 'em loose." He warns that because of the overcrowded facilities, "They're using shock parole as if it's the ordinary way of doing business."

The ACLU's Jean Kamp, however, thinks shock parole is one measure that can be used more often to keep prison population down. Kamp, who's currently working on a case against the Mansfield Reformatory, was the main lawyer in the ACLU's case against the CCF. A Swarthmore (Pa.) College and University of Chicago Law School graduate, Kamp began work on the ACLU project here in August 1977, after a year-and-a-half stint at the Franklin County Public Defender's Office. “I imagine some of the Southern prison systems are worse than Ohio," she says. "The CCF, though, is about the only place I've heard of where prisoners just sit around all day. Working on a chain gang probably beats that."

Although penal experts use such descriptions as "abomination" or "disgrace" when talking about the CCF, opinions differ as to how bad the Ohio penal system really is.

Ronald Huff, a penal expert and associate professor of public administration at Ohio State University, says, "Ohio ranks pretty low." Conrad, however, says, “I think local people tend to think that it's comparatively worse than it really is.” He says, “Illinois is much worse." Dinitz says that Ohio is "about average for a Northern industrial state.” Ohio is fortunate in that its cities do not have the severe gang problems which are found in other states and which are intensified in prisons, Dinitz says. "California used to have model prisons; now some of them are fearsome places,” he says. He adds that some have become little more than battlegrounds for white nationalists, black and Chicano gangs vying for control.

Minnesota and Connecticut were the only states mentioned by Huff, Conrad or Dinitz as having adequate prison systems.

Initially the ACLU project was aimed not only at Ohio's prison system, but also at mental institutions. Kamp says that the project ended up concentrating on prisons largely because they are easier to build cases against. The main reason is that prisoners are more able and willing to complain about conditions than mental patients. Kamp says that soon after the CCF reopened, the ACLU began receiving complaint letters from convicts.

Until mid March, the CCF was overseen by superintendent David McKeen, a powerfully heavyset man who occasionally, sported American flag cufflinks and a tie clasp with a raised replica of a pair of handcuffs. He was reluctant to talk about or to show the CCF.

The institution is a complex of buildings set in a bleak yard that is carved up by barbed wire-topped cyclone fences and broad concrete walkways. 

The buildings, constructed in various years, include the cellblocks, the James Infirmary, the Limited Duty Unit, 34 correctional cells dubbed “the hole," the chapel, the kitchen and dining rooms, the receiving center, worker dorms and buildings for maintenance, plumbing and electricity. The prison laundry, powerhouse and a structure that housed prison industries are in the northernmost section of the yard.

The cell blocks are aptly named, and set in a strikingly primitive arrangement not uncommon in maximum security prisons of even later years. The cells are stacked, back to back, one on top of another in a cage-like setup of six tiers, called ranges. They stand like massive buttes in the middle of the cavernous buildings, and are set across from enormous banks of often inoperable windows.

The ground level ranges hold several unenclosed showers in addition to the standard cells. The cells, which often house two prisoners, are 8 by 10 feet and each contains a cold-water sink, a toilet and two sets of metal bunk beds, a reminder of the not-too-distant days when four inmates might be crammed into each cell.

The cell blocks are arranged in an L shape. Four of them run parallel to Neil Avenue; they're near the reception center, where arriving prisoners are given medical and psychological tests and classified. These cells house medium-security prisoners and reception inmates waiting to be sent to other Ohio prisons. Since those other prisons are already overcrowded, that wait can be a long one.

The other four cell blocks run parallel to Spring Street; A and B house maximum security prisoners, while C and D hold inmates in protective custody and the troublemakers and unadjusted.

When the Ohio Pen was built in 1834, it was hailed as not only the world's largest, but also the best. After all, according to reports, one of the cholera-plagued prisons it replaced had 13 whipping posts where wrongdoers were stripped and whipped and then had hot coals shoveled onto their backs.

In the earlier years many prisoners spent time outside the walls and helped the city prosper. Prisoner labor, in fact, built the Ohio Pen. After that, inmates quarried the Scioto River bank stone used to build the Statehouse. The stone was transported via a prisoner-built railroad that was the city's first.

Just a year after the prison opened, New York foundryman Peter Hayden imported the idea of using the convicts for contract labor. One preserved yearly account shows prisoners doing more than two million man-hours of work for local blue-collar industries that sprang up nearby.

Wages paid for the prisoners werethenlessthanadollaraday, but still helped keep the Pen's operating costs down. Labor unions, however, eventually succeeded in having the prison labor declared unfair competition and halted. 

Prison industries were also curtailed, a move which occurred nationwide during the widespread unemployment of the Depression.

Ironically, penal experts now are saying that using prison labor is a key to running a good penal system. Conrad says that one reason Minnesota's system stands out is that the prisons have contracts with private industries that allow prisoners to earn up to almost $4 an hour. Some of that money is deducted for room and board, but Conrad says that convicts who have served long sentences are able to leave the prison with several thousand dollars.

Dinitz says, "The idea of having prisoners sit around and do nothing is a relatively new idea.” In earlier times, prisoners were made to do the jobs that no one else wanted, Dinitz says, such as rowing in galleys. He says one of the problems with large institutions such as the CCF is that they simply cannot find enough work to keep prisoners from being idle.

Even when Ohio Pen operating funds were buttressed by convict wages, prison administrators were pleading with the legislature for more money to make needed repairs. The state, however, was often concerned mainly with cramming as many prisoners as possible into the Ohio Pen.

The designed capacity of the pen has been listed at anywhere from 1,600 to 2,600; the latter number is based on having two prisoners in some cells. At times prison population has swelled to more than 5,000.

Quadruple-celling and population over 4,000 have existed prior to the prison's most dramatic and tragic moments, including a 1952 riot that raged out of control for six days and left one dead; two 1968 riots, one of which left five dead, and a 1930 fire that killed 322 convicts. After each of those incidents, overcrowding was immediately named as a culprit.

Talk of replacing the Ohio Pen would gain quick support, but it never produced any tangible results until after the 1968 riots. Those helped to speed up the bogged-down plans for Lucasville, a $30 million maximum-security facility which eventually opened in 1972. Lucasville allowed the state virtually to close down the Ohio Pen except for the medical facilities. By 1974 there were just about 100 hospitalized inmates and workers at the the prison. The state had already announced plans to raze the complex, and the Pen was allowed to deteriorate. Neglected fire-fighting equipment rusted, unused cellblocks remained uncleaned and plumbing and wiring deteriorated.

Because of the prison population boom and court-ordered ceilings on other Ohio prisons, however, Gov. James A. Rhodes ordered the moribund prison resurrected. On June 22, 1976, he signed Executive Order 006, which authorized the facility to be used as the penal system's reception center. The reception center had been at the Pen for ages, but was moved to Chillicothe when the old Pen closed.

The population of CCF really began to grow when Rhodes signed Executive Order 010 on Jan 23, 1978. That authorized use of CCF for disciplinary isolation, administrative isolation, protective isolation and pre-hearing detention. In addition, a medical facility and a geriatric and handicapped prisoner facility were to be used by the Division of Forensic Psychiatry of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. 

That variety of uses would later lead Dr. David Fogel, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Illinois, to testify as a federally appointed expert. "It takes a strained imagination to call the Columbus facility a correctional facility.” Instead, Fogel labeled it a "non institution of unrelated sub-units," an "anomaly" that served "as a catch-all for the rest of the Ohio system."

CCF's population jumped in November of 1978 when 343 convicts were transferred to CCF after a work stoppage at the London Correctional Institute. Three of the transferees, Ronald E. Stewart, Roy Martin and James Bolden, became the named plaintiffs in the class-action suit against the CCF. 

Fogel and other federally-chosen experts were allowed to conduct fact-finding tours of the CCF after the ACLU, over the strenuous legal objections of the defense, was successful in having the United States Justice Department enter the case as a friend of the court. The Justice Department, which had served in that role in other court cases, was technically an impartial fact-finding party.

The ACLU's aim in the suit was to close the prison down forever: "We did not want a decree that would require them to rebuild the place," Kamp says. As part of the class-action suit, the plaintiffs also asked that every convict be compensated to the tune of $20 for each day he spent in the reopened CCF.

To fight that claim, defendants brought in their own experts, some of whom were state employees in other departments. Their reports were kinder to the prison than those of the Justice Department experts, but still stopped short of being whole-hearted endorsements. They said the prison was adequate, but recommended repairs, better sanitary procedures and a thorough cleaning.

Federal experts weren't so kind, however. Carson Associates Inc. of Springfield, Va., fire protection consultants, chronicled a list of fire hazards and administration-ignored precautions regarded as standard in many institutions.

Kamp says that during the 1978 blizzard, inmates reported that water froze in their toilets. In an affidavit, inmate Julius Williams wrote, “It's too cold for a dog to live here," and noted that the guards who patrolled the ranges "dress like Eskimos."

In a court deposition, one inmate testified that he caught 15 rats in his cell in just three days. He said he saw dozens more after he gave up his futile trapping. James Mathers, an inmate who said he quit as a food service worker because he was tired of the administration's indifference toward unsanitary conditions, told investigators that when he entered the kitchen in pre-dawn hours he had to "beat off the rats and the mice.

Theodore J, Gordin, an environmental health consultant, warned that "the crowding of inmates into small areas” is a good way to start epidemics. Inmate crowding, which was blamed in the recent shocking riot at a New Mexico prison, also "can lead to increased aggression, withdrawal or abnormal sexual behavior," Gordin said.

Dinitz says that putting two people in a cell, which the CCF still has to do, "creates all kinds of administrative problems," because of increased tensions.

Joseph Ham, of the California College of Medicine, surveyed the prison's 34 unlighted, 4 and a half-by-11 foot corrections cells and concluded, "With the exception of the filthy gang showers on the first of three levels in the correctional cell area, there are no other facilities provided for personal hygiene. Therefore, none takes place for periods of up to 30 days. The toilet, in which the waste of previous inmates and insects are left standing, and the bunk for sleeping are the only objects in the cell. Advanced age and physical infirmities do not exempt inmates from confinement in 'the hole.' "

CCF assistant superintendent Russel Griffith, however, assures, “Nowadays it's just like any other area. They get three square meals a day. Years ago they just got soup once a day and a meal every third day."

Other administration policies, however, came in for heavy criticism. Fogel charged that prisoner classification at CCF took between one and a half and two months, many times longer than needed, because completed psychological tests would not be interpreted for weeks.

That meant just more enforced idleness for hundreds of prisoners, because those housed in the reception area had no work, no rehabilitation programs and were denied access to the prison library. They would spend about 22 hours a day in their small cells, being let out only for meals, perhaps a church service, and two hours of recreation per week. Fogel testified, "The recreation program outside of the cell consists of about 200 to 300 men set loose on the top gym floor at the same time. Organized activity is a rarity.” Even the state's experts acknowledged that the gym and its restrooms were filthy.

Conditions at the prison hospital, the James Infirmary, were criticized by Lambert King, a medical director in Cook County, Illinois. King concluded, "Only a completely new facility or massive renovation could make it adequate." King noted a lack of essential equipment and described some existing equipment as inoperable due to a layer of dirt and cigarette butts.

The infirmary came off quite well, however, compared to the Limited Duty Unit. The LDU is a two-story unit which houses about 100 convicts with disabilities that keep them out of the general population. Prisoners refer to it as the Lame, Dumb and Useless. Ham inspected the LDU and concluded it was “zoo-like" and that inmates "housed here are worse off than those housed in the general population."

Ham testified at some length about unsanitary, unhealthy conditions, but found the most shocking aspect of the LDU to be the attitude of the prisoners. He interviewed about half and asked them, "If you had the power, what's the first thingyou would do?" In a general prison population, responses dealing with freedom and parole normally are by far the most common answers. But not one inmate in the LDU made such an answer. Most responded with changes they wanted in the LDU routine. They could no longer visualize themselves in lives outside of the LDU.

Ham noted that often LDU patients' faces were "void of emotional expressions," and said almost all were suffering from institutional neurosis. Even more disturbing were some tests run on younger residents in the unit. According to Ham, the younger men were not only as mentally listless as their elder counterparts, but they also showed substantially slowed reflexes and other advanced signs of premature aging. Ham concluded, "The Limited Duty Unit is an isolated colony of human despair inhabited by decaying old men and young men who are old. It is paralleled only by the grotesqueness of the hole." Ham recommended that the LDU "be closed immediately."

Dr. Frank Rundle, who reviewed the prison's psychiatric care, was highly critical of the prison's policy of shackling potentially dangerous or self-harmful inmates to their beds. Corrections officers, not psychiatrists or psychologists, determined which inmates were to be chained to their beds and when they were to be released. The result, Rundle told the court, was that "mentally ill patients were chained to their beds."

On his several visits to the corrections cells, Ham said, “Both young and old, sick and well inmates were observed. Several of the inmates were restrained by chains in an almost 'spreadeagle' fashion. These inmates are allowed to lie, chained, in conditions of extreme heat, insects, rodents, human waste and vomitus."

One prisoner told Ham, "I have been in these chains for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for 15 days. The only time they let me up is to take a piss and that's if the guard is in a good mood."

On July 13, 1979, Judge Duncan ruled that the CCF would have to establish and follow strict procedures for restraining inmates. Duncan also ruled that the prison could no longer be segregated by cell. Up to that time the cell blocks were integrated, but prison officials contended that having cellmates all the same color made for less volatile conditions.

Now, at the reception center, in mates are asked if there is any reason they couldn't share a cell with someone of a different race. Prison files are currently filling up with written responses such as, “If they put me in a cell with a black, they will have to come get one of us. They will carry one of us out.”

Duncan never was asked to rule on the constitutionality of the other conditions; in December, 1979, the plaintiffs and the defendants signed a consent decree, a legal agreement which does not contain an admission of wrongdoing. The state agreed to make extensive improvements while phasing out the CCF, conditions that can be enforced by the federal court.

The parties are still bickering about attorneys' fees, since the ACLU wants about $73,000 from the state for its project for the institutionalized. That bill included almost 600 hours of Kamp's time at $80 and $90 an hour.

The parties did agree, however, to some 22 pages outlining improvements in the CCF that the court can enforce until the prison is finally closed at the end of 1983.

Prisoners are given a copy of the decree when they enter the CCF and can see the improvements that have been won. Among other things, inmates can no longer be double-celled for more than 100 days. Unused bunks are being removed to create more space in cells. Visitation policies have been relaxed. Recreation time for reception center inmates is being doubled to five hours a week.

To meet some of the requirements, the state has had to pump money into the dying prison to fix existing structures and even to build some new ones. That's led some cynical inmates to believe the state will find some way to keep CCF open. But, in the consent decree, Ohio budget director William Keip said that $40 million would be allocated to build a prison housing more than 1,000 prisoners to replace the CCF by 1984. Rhodes recently asked the General Assembly for $2.1 million to start plans for two new prisons with a projected cost of $72 million. The House approved the $2.1 million appropriation in early March and sent the bill to the Senate.

Still, those projects would only require half the capital a department report said was needed to make the state's penal system adequate and would be little more than one-third of the amount Norris and Lehman repeatedly have asked for. Currently the state plans to hold down costs by placing prisoners from the over-crowded and court-badgered Mansfield Reformatory into what used to be the Fairfield School for Boys. The latter first opened as the Ohio Reform School in 1857.

That move is already creating skeptics. Conrad says, "That will be very remarkable if it can be done." Many see it as just another problem down the road. Ironically, some people see the proposed 1,000-man prison slated to replace CCF in the same context—as a potential problem. Many experts now feel that large institutions are condemned to be unsafe and unproductive. European prisons, which may house 200 to 300 prisoners, are currently being held up as models by many corrections experts.

Dinitz says it now costs about $50,000 to $60,000 per cell to build a prison, and “we keep looking for economy in size.” He also says that "Americans seem to feel that if we have bigger, stronger institutions, we'll be safer."

With problems in the penal system still on the horizon, many feel that this time when the Ohio Pen is closed down it must be destroyed.

Conrad says, "I don't think Gilligan or Rhodes had the gumption to destroy the place." Dinitz warns, “It has to be blown up or it will be used again.” 

This story originally appeared in the April 1980 issue of Columbus Monthly.


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