LUCASVILLE, OH (WCMH) - Prison guards at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville are planning to picket on May 31st.
The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) is the union representing the guards. OCSEA president Christopher Mabe said they're understaffed and dealing with some of the most violent inmates, all while the opiate crisis runs rampant inside the prison.
"I'm worried that something could happen anywhere at anytime in our department and the issues right now are focused at Lucasville," he said.
Mabe said the opiate crisis runs deep inside the prison system.
"Easy access to drugs inside our institution, not only through physical means," he said. "Some people in society are flying drugs over our facilities now, dropping them with drones."
He said coupling drug problems with under-staffing is a dangerous mix.
"Much like anything else when things are unchecked in a prison system is when we have the instances, back in Mansfield when we had the instances in our death row unit," said Mabe. "Violence inside the facility, large scale costs, loss of life and those are things we always try to prevent inside our facilities, that's our first and foremost job."
Sometimes, he said guards work 16-hour shifts while dealing with inmates who are considered the worst of the worst.
"It's being focused more now that we have more violent in one institution, but the staffing levels haven't increased to actually accommodate those types of issus so if you couple that with the increase in opioid addictions inside our facilities, I mean it's just a powder keg," said Mabe.
OCSEA said it plans on passing out bumper stickers during their picket that read: "DANGER: UNDERSTAFFED PRISON AREA"
"We face a lot of challenges inside our department just simply because of the lack of staffing and now it looks like a lack of funding," said Mabe.
The Ohio Department of Corrections sent NBC4 this statement saying:
"The administration at SOCF remains focused and diligent in efforts to prevent and intercept drugs from being brought into the facility."