Gov. Mike DeWine sending medics from National Guard into Elkton prison

26 unarmed members will assist
Posted at 3:39 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 20:03:35-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — During his daily press conference on Monday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state will be sending in members of the National Guard to the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution in Lisbon, Ohio.

DeWine said 26 unarmed guardsmen who work in the medical field from the National Guard will be sent to the prison to help assist the current prison staff. The National Guard will bring with them personal protective equipment, medical equipment and ambulances to help the prison systems deal with the outbreak.

“This is a medical mission only,” DeWine said.

The members of the National Guard will be in the prison for seven to 10 days, until more federal assistance arrives, DeWine said.

While the governor has no authority over federal prisons, DeWine requested that the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Prisons “should stop any intake going into that prison for any reason” to help fight the outbreak of COVID-19 happening at prisons and jails across the state.

Seven inmates in Elkton have tested positive for COVID-19.Three inmates have died from COVID-19 complications at the institution.

Additionally, the governor said five inmates tested positive at the Marion Correctional Institution and five tested positive at the Pickaway Correctional Institution.

DeWine said he would prefer the federal prison not accept any new inmates.

“When an outbreak inside the prison takes place, it’s certainly not the time to introduce new inmates to that population. We’ve been receiving calls from family members of inmates that helped and asking us to release the federal prisoners,” DeWine said “Let me very very clear we do not have that authority. This is a federal prison, I have no authority in that area.”

In order to slow the spread of the coronavirus in prisons, DeWine is looking at releasing addition non-violent, low-level offenders to help reduce the state prison population and allow social distancing practices and self-isolating and quarantine to be implemented.

DeWine stressed that no one dangerous will be released. Violent inmates and sex offenders will not be eligible for release.

The state is looking at and considering prisoners who are already close to release and are non-violent, DeWine said.

The goal is to reduce the contact between not only prisoners, but also the prison staff to protect them and their families.

Local judges received a short list of suggested prisoners to review. The judges who have the final decision on inmate release will hold court hearings, contact prosecutors, contact the victims involved in the crime and from there decide what is best, DeWine said.

Sen. Rob Portman said he has spoken with DeWine about the prison.

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