Another Headline-Making Suicide Rocks The Prison System, And Inside The Old Ohio Pen

Reviews are under way examining how Ariel Castro, one of Ohio's most notorious prison inmates committed suicide a month into his life sentence. Medicaid expansion advocates say time is running out, so they’re planning on taking the issue to the ballot if lawmakers don’t act soon. Another ballot issue that could be before voters next year seeks to repeal a law effectively banning storefront sweepstakes parlors. And state lawmakers, governors and politicians from around the state came to the Statehouse Thursday to celebrate the life of former Gov. John J. Gilligan.

One of Columbus’ oldest and most famous buildings is no longer standing. But the history and the impact of the Ohio Penitentiary is still felt by people who remember the huge facility, which used to take up nearly 23 acres of prime real estate in downtown near Nationwide Arena. But before former mayor Dana "Buck" Rinehart called it a “scar on the face of Columbus”, before the 1968 riot and the deadly 1930 fire there, the Ohio Penitentiary was a showcase for the state. When it was opened in 1834, it was called one of the best prison facilities in the country. It was ordered closed in 1979, and by that time it was considered an embarrassing eyesore with a horrible history of death, disease and suffering. Three authors have taken on the challenge of telling the stories of the old Ohio Pen. Two of them are here to talk about their book “Inside the Ohio Penitentiary” – David Meyers, who worked for three decades in the Ohio prison system, including at the Ohio Pen, and Elise Meyers Walker, a freelance writer and photographer who’s also co-authored four other books with her father. James Dailey II is the book’s third author – he holds the largest private collection of Ohio prison memorabilia.

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