Deputies: Crumbling Lucas County Jail building a potential source of weapons for inmates

Deputies: Crumbling Lucas County Jail building a potential source of weapons for inmates
Deputies say inmates can use parts of the building itself, like this chunk of cinder block wall, as weapons.
Deputies say inmates can use parts of the building itself, like this chunk of cinder block wall, as weapons.

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Lucas County Jail deputies are constantly working to insure inmates can't get their hands on weapons from the outside or fashion "shivs" from objects allowed inside the jail. Now jail guards say inmates have found a new source of weapons: the crumbling Lucas County Jail itself.

The building is in such poor shape, pieces of the ceramic floor tile or cinder block wall are being used as weapons inside the jail. Jail deputies say they spend a lot of time trying to keep this kind of material out of the hands of inmates.

"Anytime you come in and see tile like this you have to kick it and pick at it and get a putty knife," said Caption David Friddell.

Friddell has been working in the jail for 15 years, and training new deputies for 14 of those years. He says his training is now more focused on the crumbling building than what he should really be teaching new guards.

"Where we run into problems is instead of teaching them the ins and outs of inmate behavior management and work and talk with inmates, I'm showing them how to find structural flaws, kick the tiles, see what comes loose. It could be used as a shank," said Friddell.

Maintenance crews replace floor tiles, but deputies say a high work load and overcrowding at the jail make it a tough job.

"As far as population, we try to shift them but we don't have the luxury of shutting down an entire tank to make the repairs so we do repairs on the fly," said Friddell.

Friddell says it does not make sense to completely remodel the jail when a new building could be constructed in the near future.

"You can't keep throwing good money after bad and that's what's happening," said Friddell.

Lucas County Commissioners and Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp have agreed on the need for a new jail, but funding is holding the project up. Still, the county is moving forward. A consulting group is currently working on a proposal for the building, which will include cost estimates for engineering, architecture and construction. County commissioners have set a goal to open the new jail in 2018.

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