Lima prison staff claims they warned that an escape was being planned

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LIMA, Ohio -- Union staff at the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution claims they warned the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections that an escape was being planned at the facility.

According to a release from the union -- which represents the majority of workers in the ODRC -- they issued that warning Wednesday, one day before T.J. Lane and two other inmates escaped from the facility.

"One inmate was put in segregation as a result, but no additional measures were taken to secure the unit," according to the release.

The union also says they previously put ODRC on notice about staffing levels being too low and inmate security levels not being adequate. ODRC has not commented on that matter.

Lane, 19, escaped with inmates Clifford Opperud and Lindsey Bruce around 7:40 p.m. Thursday by scaling a fence.

Bruce was caught near a church off of Blue Lick Road not long after. Lane was captured around 1:20 a.m. about 100 yards away from the prison. Opperud was arrested around 4:22 a.m. It’s not clear where he was found.

Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz says he wants a meeting with the warden of the prison and the director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

"The department of corrections has a system in place to assign defendants to certain prisons, and clearly that system needs to be reevaluated," said Flaiz. "He should not have been at such a minimal security institution, and I am going to be demanding answers from the department of corrections on this."

Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution is considered a minimum-medium security facility.

Flaiz said prison officials do not check with judges or prosecutors before deciding where to house inmates. He said he'd like that to change.

"The ease in which he escaped from the prison, a high-profile mass murderer should not have been there. Period," he said.

In a release issued Friday afternoon, the department of corrections said that all three inmates who escaped have since been transferred to the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown.

In its release, ODRC also stated:

"The severity of his crimes and threats that had been made against his life by other inmates led inmate Lane to be assigned the highest level security grade typically given to a first-time inmate, as well as a protective custody classification—the same ratings assigned to Cleveland kidnapper/rapist Ariel Castro, also a first time inmate.  Criminal and administrative investigations are currently underway to determine what led to the inmates’ escape, and outside experts will also be tasked to review DRC procedures to make any possible recommendations for improvements."

“The quick work by the Patrol and the Allen County and Lima law enforcement responders was impressive and I appreciate it.  We never like to have a problem which requires us to turn to our local partners for help but when we do we like knowing that they are there and are able to respond as well as they did last night.  It was a strong response that produced the desired outcomes and produced them quickly,” said Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Gary Mohr.

The following timeline was also released by ODRC outlining what happened during the escape and search:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

7:38 p.m.: Inmates scale fence to cross roof of entry building and fence alarm immediately sounds;

7:45 p.m.: Ohio State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement notified of escapes

7:47 p.m.: A staff member sees the three inmates running northbound from the prison and gives chase, apprehending Bruce.

8:37 p.m. : Law enforcement security perimeter confirmed completed. Patrol begins bringing additional resources online including the Special Response Team, canine unit, helicopter and aircraft.

Friday, September 12, 2014

1:20 a.m.: Lane apprehended by the State Patrol’s SRT in a wooded area near the prison; a Patrol canine led officers to the inmate’s location;

4:20 a.m.: Opperud apprehended hiding under a boat on a private residence, north of Bluelick Rd.  A helicopter-mounted infrared camera tracked a hot spot which led officers to the area and a Patrol canine located the inmate.

10:55 a.m.:  All three inmates transferred to the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown.

For continuing coverage on this story, click here.

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