Lawyers Say Prison Lied About Asbestos

As more information emerges in regards to a lawsuit filed by inmates against the state of Ohio and the Chillicothe Correctional Institution, an article in the Columbus Dispatch revealed that prison officials lied about the presence of asbestos in the prison’s dormitory areas.

Attorney Jeff Donnellon says his clients mailed him evidence of these untruths from behind bars, including snippings of steampipe insulation from dorm areas and samples of a powdery white substance from a dorm floor

According to a state report, prison officials told inspectors last year that there was no asbestos that could be found in housing areas of the prison, which opened more than 40 years ago in 1966.

Accusing prison officials of knowingly providing false information, a lawsuit has been filed seeking damages for inmates who might have been harmed by inhaling asbestos fibers, the article states.

“Many clients believe they have lung problems attributable to asbestos,” Donnellon said. He wants independent medical tests for his clients, he says, as the lawsuit also alleges that inmate work crews were forced to remove or work with asbestos without proper training or protection.

Even though records show that the Ohio state prison system has spent millions removing asbestos from its facilities, attorneys for the inmates and former inmates involved in the suit say they were “astonished” when prison officials denied there was asbestos in housing areas, ignoring the obvious presence of the toxic mineral.

Currently, the prison houses 2,850 inmates and has 587 staff members. Neither union nor prison officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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