Five prisoners have been identified and sanctioned after two working computers were discovered hidden in the ceiling of Ohio’s Marion Correctional Institution in 2015.
“In late July 2015 staff at the prison discovered the computers hidden on a plywood board in the ceiling above a training room closet. The computers were also connected to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s network,” reported CBS 6 Albany. “Authorities say they were first tipped off to a possible problem in July, when their computer network support team got an alert that a computer ‘exceeded a daily internet usage threshold.’ When they checked the login being used, they discovered an employee’s credentials were being used on days he wasn’t scheduled to work.”
Relaxed supervision, which allowed inmates to engage in a computer building class that supplied the parts and knowledge, has been blamed by investigators. They discovered that one prisoner was using the computers to steal identities and commit tax fraud. The computers were also used by prisoners to “create security clearance passes that gave them access to restricted areas,” thus compromising the security of the entire facility.
“It surprised me that the inmates had the ability to not only connect these computers to the state’s network but had the ability to build these computers,” said Ohio Inspector General Randall J. Meyer. “They were able to travel through the institution more than 1,100 feet without being checked by security through several check points, and not a single correction’s staff member stopped them from transporting these computers into the administrative portion of the building. It’s almost if it’s an episode of Hogan’s Heroes.”
“I think the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction needs to go through and do a spot on check to all their computer networks,” he continued. “They’ve run through every open port within Marion Correctional to make sure there’s no other malicious computers connected to their system but that’s one of 32 institutions across the state.”
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction thanked the Inspector General’s office for conducting the investigation, adding that they have “already taken steps to address some areas of concern.”
“We will thoroughly review the reports and take any additional steps necessary to prevent these types of things from happening again,” the department declared in a statement. “It is of critical importance that we provide necessary safeguards in regards to the use of technology while still providing opportunities for offenders to participate in meaningful and rehabilitative programming.”
The five prisoners reported to be involved in the computer scandal have been identified and transported to separate facilities.