State prison system announces largest mass layoff of 2011

On Friday, it was learned that in the wake of state budget cuts and in anticipation of the Governor’s plan to privatize five prisons, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction plans to eliminate 1,135 jobs by the end of the year. In all, approximately 950 workers will lose their jobs, including hundreds of prison guards, nurses, teachers, administrative staff, and even five chaplains. Some of these workers will be able to reapply for their jobs with the private prison operators, but continued employment is far from guaranteed.

The cuts are needed, officials say, to make up for a $188 million reduction in state funding over the biennium. Rather than use the proceeds gained from selling the prisons to private companies, estimated to net $200 million for the state, that money was instead used as a one-time source of funds to prop up the state budget.

By federal law, private employers who plan to terminate 50 or more workers are required to notify the state, who tracks these mass layoff events on its website. The state’s action to reduce the ranks of prison guards, parole officers and other personnel represents the largest mass layoff in the state of Ohio so far in 2011.

As we predicted in April, cuts in the current state budget could have the effect of putting up to 51,000 Ohioans out of work.