ToCI Warden Sheldon talks prison life

Razor wire fence surrounds the Toledo Correctional Institution, and in just a few short years, the prison has seen the population swell.

"The inmate population actually inside the main facility went from around 950, to around 1,604 inmates when I got here," says ToCI Warden Ed Sheldon.

It's cells are now home to 1,260 people serving time. Early last year, that number began to include some of the most violent offenders.

Sheldon says, "Level 4-A inmates, which are maximum security inmates. We started receiving them last February [2012]."

Sheldon has been the warden at ToCI for about a year and a half. He says the increase in population has put a strain on his officers, especially with more violent criminals, but they've adapted well.

"They've learned how to handle these inmates, and do an outstanding job day-in and day-out." says Sheldon.

WNWO received a personal tour of the prison from Warden Sheldon. It was surprising to see a large number of inmates simply walking around. Even more staggering was the ratio of inmates to officers, which at 6:1, is pretty standard, but it means CO's must always have their head on a swivel.

"The staff are always on guard," explains Sheldon. "You can't be complacent in this type of career field."

He admits it's impossible to remain incident free, saying they break up fights every single day, fights that may start with something as simple as a dirty look. and officers must be ready for anything.

When asked if he ever fears an incident like the Lucasville Riot happening, he replied, "Always."

Violent things do happen no matter how many precautions are taken. On March 10th, inmate Christopher Trent, whose story we brought you on Tuesday, says an fellow prisoner stabbed him and burned his face with boiling water.

Trent claims that just seven days later, another inmate, Arturo Lopez, was murdered by the same prisoner who attacked Trent.

Warden Sheldon says he takes complete responsibility for the incident, or any other under his watch, and is greatly affected by it.

"I'm the one to blame when that happens," he says remorsefully. "I'm the one who has to tell the families. And it's very hard."

He says they learn from every mistake, and believes his CO's to be top-knotch.

"They are doing the right thing. We are keeping Ohio safe," assures the Warden.

Tuesday story: Letters from inside prison