Reported violent incidents against staff at Lebanon prison among highest in Ohio
WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - A concerning trend in the increasing number of Lebanon Correctional Institution’s officers being assaulted is being met with a change in leadership.
According to internal communications obtained by FOX19 NOW Investigates, Douglas Luneke is taking over the warden, while Chae Harris is moving on to become the warden at Warren Correctional.
The changeup comes less than five months after two corrections officers at Lebanon Correctional Institution were assaulted on Christmas Day, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Both of the officers suffered “possible internal injuries” during the attack from inmate Eric Rontell Williams, Warren County court documents state. Williams was indicted by a grand jury for felonious assault and possession of a deadly weapon while under detention, the documents show.
The Christmas Day assault at the facility is one of the hundreds of reported attacks against staff since 2019.
The high-security male prison houses more than 1,500 inmates, some of which are described by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections as some of the most challenging inmates.
Since 2021, the Ohio State Correctional Institution Inspection Committee’s data shows Lebanon Correctional reported 160 violent incidents against its staff. That number is far higher than comparable facilities in Ohio.
New strategies are being implemented at the Lebanon facility, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Among the new practices include monitoring gang members and adding security cameras to reduce violence in the prison.
In 2022, Lebanon Correctional was inspected twice by a state committee.
A subsequent state report shows nine corrections officers working at the prison met with the inspection committee. In those interviews, “most officers rated staff safety as ‘low.’”
That same inspection found the “low” morale was because of low staffing levels, mandated overtime and low pay.
At the time of the inspection, state data shows there were 92 corrections officer vacancies at Lebanon Correctional Institution.
That means at the time of the 2022 inspection, the facility was operating at less than 75% of its usual officer staffing level.
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