December 18, 2014

Officials consider electric fences at prisons

Electric Fence for security: Ohio's prisons could get electrified fences installed in an effort by officials to boost security.

The idea is one of many Director Gary Mohr said they are reviewing as methods to keep inmates from escaping and prevent people from throwing contraband, such as drugs and cellphones, into the prison yard. If officials install the electrified fences, they would deliver enough electricity to knock the person down, Mohr said in an interview with Gannett Ohio editors and reporters.

"We had an issue at Allen and at Mansfield (correctional institutions) where inmates were able to overcome the fence," Mohr said.

Officials also are looking at other technologies, such as sensor-based systems and drones, as possible additions to security. Other possible security solutions include installing a secondary fencing perimeter or nets that would impede the ability of people to throw contraband-stuffed balls far enough to reach inmates.

Mohr is concerned about drugs in the prisons, noting that nearly 3 percent of random drug tests in November came back positive.

"If we don't work every month to come up with new ideas ... we fall behind because there's too much money in this, and where there's money, there's corruption," Mohr said. "We've got to be on the cutting edge of this stuff."

jison@gannett.com

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