By Associated Press - Friday, March 19, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Allegations of abuse toward inmates by prison guards, including the use of racial slurs, have been forwarded by Ohio’s top judge to a legislative prison oversight committee, according to a Friday court ruling.

At issue were complaints by two inmates at Madison Correctional Institution in central Ohio. In a complaint filed with the court last year, one inmate alleged he’d been assaulted by guards multiple times, and also threatened, harassed and subjected to “racial slurs and derogatory comments.”

The court dismissed the complaints Friday over procedural issues, but the dismissal indicated that Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor had forwarded the complaints to the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

If the allegations are true, “there is a very serious problem in the Department of Corrections,” O’Connor wrote in a letter to the prisons committee last week, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The fact the court can’t rule on the complaints doesn’t mean the “allegations have fallen on deaf ears,” Justice Michael Donnelly noted in Friday’s ruling.

The inmates’ allegations are being investigated, JoEllen Smith, a Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokesperson, said Friday.

“Allegations of use of force or inappropriate supervision are taken very seriously,” she said, adding the agency will cooperate with the prisons inspection committee.

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