Paul McKibben reports:
When the new Warren County racino opens in Turtlecreek Township in 2014, its closest neighbor will be the state’s most unusual prison.
The Lebanon Correctional Institute, near a busy Interstate 75 interchange (Exit 29), is one of 10 Ohio working prison farms. It is home to nearly 800 head of cattle that roam some 1,700 acres of rolling hills along Ohio 63. Its caretakers are minimum-security inmates.
The prison also manufactures license plates and validation stickers for every motorist in Ohio. That work is part of the Ohio Penal Industries, a self-sufficient agency within the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction that manufactures goods such as furniture. Any government or nonprofit agency can buy the goods.
In another unique program, inmates crochet baby blankets and other items for a Dayton veterans hospital.
“I’m trying to raise my kids from here,” said LCI inmate Larry Chapman, 39, of Springfield Township, a convicted drug dealer serving an 11-year-sentence.
Chapman has four children ages 7-13 and works in the prison’s recycling program. “How am I going to tell them to go get a job when I don’t have one?”