"Men in Cages" By Chaplain Mark Stradiot


The  Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) is a 502-inmate capacity supermax Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction prison in Youngstown, Ohio. The institution houses many inmates that are considered to be the highest security risk within the state. According to Thomas Fortini, a Chaplain employed at the institution, numerous inmates have committed a violent crime in another prison and have been transferred to OSP.  The level of security in this institution is higher for these men than for those on death row.  When asked how long the men spend in their cells a day, an employee at the institution responded that he believed the averages time was 22 hours!

Some programming is available to the inmates. True Freedom Ministries was able to gain weekly entrance into this facility with our Character Development classes (already being presented regularly in the correctional institutions: Grafton, Mansfield, Richland, Trumbull, Lake Erie prisons). There is a marked difference, however, with the former institutions and OSP. In all the other prisons we can have our “round table” meetings around actual tables.  In OSP the inmates are hand cuffed and foot shackled and escorted to an area where there are six “cages,” which are not much bigger than a phone booth. Each inmate is then locked in one of these “cages.” It is from this arrangement that we must conduct our program.

It is a great opportunity to minister the Gospel to these men and have our classes.  We are finishing our first class, with four inmates receiving certificates of completion. One of the inmates commented that, of all the programs of which he was a part, this was the best one! Please pray for this ministry and the men at OSP.