Carl Monday Investigates: Was T.J. Lane's escape inevitable?

Former Lima inmate gives perspective on T.J. Lane's escape
Entrance to Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution: (Source: WOIO)
Entrance to Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution: (Source: WOIO)

His name's Jerome.  A 57 year old stroke victim, who like T.J. Lane, spent time in the joint:  The Allen Correctional Institution in Lima.  So understandably, Jerome has a keen perspective on Lane's escape along with two other inmates.

"Security is like a college dorm,"  said Jerome during an interview with 19 Action News Chief Investigator Carl Monday.  "You got your own keys.  You go in and out as you please.  They have an 18 hole put-put golf course."

But because Lane posed a danger to himself, other inmates and prison security, he and other high risk prisoners were housed in a protective control unit.

But even for low security level inmates, Jerome says busting loose would be no easy task.  He points to two fences, about eight feet high, sporting razor wire at the top.  Even if you make it over the fences, there's a pile of rocks waiting for you on the way down.  And security patrolling the grounds.

So how did the three inmates escape?  Jerome says they either had the tools to cut their way through, or they had help from the inside from staff members, possibly security.

A state report issued just months ago raised questions about security at Allen, saying "Security management remains a concern", especially involving high security inmates like T.J. Lane.

The report also says the prison is overcrowded, and increasingly violent.  35 acts of inmate on inmate violence was reported last year.  Still, a state inspection team says the relationship between inmates and staff is "exceptional."

There were two other escape attempts in the past two years.  Both were unsuccessful.  The Ohio Dept. of Corrections is investigating the recent escapes.  Jerome says hopefully they'll answer a question he and others are asking:  "What was he doing in a medium security prison in the first place."

Copyright 2014 WOIO. All rights reserved