Local sheriffs say they are not concerned about jail escapes

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Despite a number of high profile inmate escapes over the past six weeks, one local sheriff said he is not concerned about it happening here.

“I don’t want to say it is impossible, but it is highly improbable anyone could ever get out of this facility,” Trumbull County Sheriff Thomas Altiere said.

Altiere said the Trumbull County Jail has technology to keep an eye on inmates and ensure deputies are safe and doing their jobs. But he said there also are added security measures that are required by law at all jails in Ohio.

“We check the jail, I mean every cell, every 45 minutes. We have rovers who go around, we do headcounts,” Altiere said.

Still, escapes do happen. This week, four inmates got out of a prison in Mississippi. Before that, there were the two convicted murderers who broke out of a facility in upstate New York, as well as the recent escape of a notorious drug lord from a lockup in Mexico.

“There is always some type of a breakdown in security,” Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said.

He said lack of staff and overcrowding are among the key problems. But he said one common factor seen with many jail breaks is the inmates always seem to have some sort of help from the inside.

Greene was a reserve deputy in 1991 when six inmates escaped from the old county jail on Boardman Street. Among them was convicted killer Willie “Flip” Williams.

The Sheriff admits workers probably were not paying attention to their jobs.

“They actually dug through a wall in that case and went up through a chute. And there would have been a lot of banging noises going on to get through that wall, and a lot of digging,” Greene said.

Greene and Altiere both said the jails now have cameras to watch all areas. But Greene said supervisors also must watch over their employees to be sure none are getting too close to any of the inmates.

“Usually it starts small. You know, they might sneak cigarettes for them, or bringing in food, and it just basically, every time it has been our policy to instantly get rid of that employee,” Greene said.

He said standard policy is to terminate workers who violate the rules.

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