COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- The union representing Ohio prison guards wants an extra 400 officers to combat what it calls a sharp increase in the number of serious assaults by inmates on staff.
"With more violent inmates without increasing adequate staffing on the ground, those violent incidents increase exponentally," said Christopher Mabe, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association.
Mabe says an upcoming state budget proposal of 89 officers at three individual prisons is not enough and will lead to more injuries and added workers' comp and overtime costs.
The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association said Thursday the major assault rate has hit a 7-year high even as nearly 850 guard positions have been cut.
"We don't carry guns inside the fence. We don't have tasers. We've only gotten mace within the department in the last seven years," Mabe said.
Guard Monica Meade said she was off work for three months last year after an inmate at Trumbull Correctional Institution punched her after threatening to throw her off a second-floor balcony.
"We don't need to be putting money into places where it's not needed. This is one of the places that it's needed," said State Rep. Tom Letson, a Democrat from Warren who thinks the demand for 400 more officers doesn't go far enough.
Letson says the state has nearly $2 billion in the rainy day fund and some of that money could easily fund the estimated $15 million it would cost to hire the additional officers.
A message was left with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story)