State releases scathing report on Toledo Correctional Institution

When WNWO first met Robin Benson in April, 2013, she feared for the safety of her son, Christopher Trent, who is an inmate at the Toledo Correctional Institution (TCI) located in North Toledo.

"Gangs. People getting killed," Benson recalled about what her son had told her went on in prison.

A report by the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) shows inmate-on-inmate assaults increased 113 percent from 2010 to 2012. Inmate-on-staff assaults were up 74 percent.

"They brought in all there gangs. And I don't think they can control that prison... My son doesn't even want me to come see him," explained Robin.

The report says assaults went down this year, but Robin, who speaks to her son regularly, says she hears differently from her son.

"Well my son has been in there for 16 years. And this is the worst it's ever been. He's been to almost every one[every prison in Ohio] but a couple," Robin said.

TCI also has the highest staff turn-over in the state.

Benson says her son told her that last week, five guards were fired, and "escorted" off the premises.

The increase in violence started when TCI started double bunking cells in 2011, and then in 2012 they began housing maximum-security inmates.

Robin Benson says she would rate the described violence at TCI at "10, or higher."

The report indicates new guards are often placed in the maximum-security areas, because senior staff can choose where to be assigned opting out to get placed in maximum security.

WNWO spoke with Warden Ed Sheldon in April. He said his priority was solving the problems at the prison, but he knows how tense a life behind bars can be, for inmates as well as guards.

WNWO asked him if he feared anything like the Lucasville Riot happening. His reply was, "Always."

The report commends Sheldon for taking proactive measures to curb the violence, but Robin Benson has a different opinion of him.

Benson states, "The violence that's going on in Toledo[Correctional Institution]... I blame the warden."

She also says that after our report aired in April, her son was threatened.

"They told him he made a big mistake. He shouldn't have done that," Robin said. "I'll tell you again. He's[her son] not gonna come out of there alive."

Within the last year, there have been three homicides and one suicide at TCI.