I-Team: Inside story of troubled downtown lock-up

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CLEVELAND- The FOX 8 I-TEAM has uncovered the inside story of a downtown correctional facility where inmates have often managed to do drugs and even leave when they want.

Cuyahoga County judges are now asking hard questions about the same problems exposed by the I-TEAM.

R J Parker got kicked out of the facility for drug use, and he told the I-TEAM, drug abuse is one of the biggest problems inside the Nancy McDonnell Community Based Correctional Facility near downtown Cleveland.

Parker said, “I’ve seen people get in comatose states where they can’t move, can’t talk.” He added, “I’ve even seen people climb the fences butt-naked. There’s some crazy stuff that goes on.”

Parker and other sources have told us many inmates often use synthetic marijuana called K-2 or spice since it can be hard to detect.

Earlier the I-TEAM revealed many inmates have escaped or walked away. Now we’ve found many of them also can’t be found.

The Cuyahoga County court says, in 2015, 60 inmates at that facility have disappeared without permission. 20 have never been found.

Cleveland Police say, in late summer, Robert Long Junior left that lock-up and then even took part in a murder.

The facility holds 220 inmates. It’s run by a private organization called Oriana House. Convicts get sent there to finish sentences for non-violent crimes, and they earn freedom to go out into the community to find jobs.

An official there says a number of steps have been taken recently to limit drugs including more testing and more searching.

Illya McGee said, “Any individual that goes into the secured area, staff, myself included, will be required to go through the scanner.”

McGee also says the staff is doing more to prevent walkaways and escapes. The staff is trying to do a better job of screening to determine which inmates get more freedom.

Meantime, some Cuyahoga County judges have been taking part in a task force talking about ways to address these problems.