Another inmate dies at Toledo prison

Cellmate a suspect in attack; 4th such fatality in just over a year

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    Michael A. Dodson’s death is the most recent example of increased violence at the prison where inmate-on-inmate assaults rose 113 percent from 2010 to 2012.

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  • Michael A. Dodson’s death is the most recent example of increased violence at the prison where inmate-on-inmate assaults rose 113 percent from 2010 to 2012.
    Michael A. Dodson’s death is the most recent example of increased violence at the prison where inmate-on-inmate assaults rose 113 percent from 2010 to 2012.

    In little more than a year, four inmates at the Toledo Correctional Institution have died after being assaulted at the prison.

    Michael A. Dodson, 38, was pronounced dead on Monday morning at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center after officials said he was assaulted by his cellmate on Sunday.

    Michael A. Dodson
    Michael A. Dodson

    His death is the most recent example of increased violence that earned the prison a scathing report last month from the state’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee.

    According to the 164-page report, inmate-on-inmate assaults increased 113 percent from 2010 to 2012; in the same time, inmate-on-staff assaults increased nearly 74 percent.

    The assault Sunday occurred at 10:25 a.m. in Dodson’s cell, said State Highway Patrol Lt. Anne Ralston, spokesman for patrol.

    An ambulance was called to the prison in North Toledo at 10:35 a.m. for “injuries” that were later classified as “traumatic injuries.”

    Dodson, who was serving a 40-year sentence for attempted murder and aggravated robbery out of Seneca County, was taken to the hospital.

    The lieutenant said the suspect is Dodson’s cellmate, though she declined to release the suspect’s name. As of Monday afternoon, no charges had been filed.

    She said it’s too early in the investigation to say what led to the assault; she declined to say how Dodson was assaulted and what type of weapon, if any, was used. It does not appear anyone else was involved in the attack.

    An autopsy will likely be performed today.

    Prison officials said they’ve taken steps to address the growing violence — such as hiring an additional nine corrections officers and installing additional surveillance cameras — but prison staff said the changes have had minimal impact.

    At 16.5 percent, the facility’s employee turnover rate is the highest in the state and morale is low, according to the state report.

    “Morale has gone down completely,” said a veteran corrections officer. “I want nothing to do with this institution. … This place is very, very dangerous. It’s a pot of boiling water and it’s going to blow up. You’re going to see staff killed there.”

    The state report did note the new cameras as a positive step for the prison, but another veteran corrections officer said there are loopholes.

    “We as corrections officers know all the cameras they put in there now … they’re not watching the inmates,” said the officer. “The inmates go in their cells and do whatever they want.”

    The officers spoke on the condition of anonymity because, they said, they could be fired for speaking to the media.

    The officer said there are cameras in hallways and in different common areas but not in cells, where three fatal assaults have taken place.

    On Aug. 18, inmate James Ray Oglesby, 32, was assaulted by another baseball bat-wielding inmate in the facility’s recreational yard. He died three days later at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.

    Arturo Lopez, 43, was strangled to death at the prison on March 17 by his cellmate Dustin Lynch, 26.

    Earlier this month, Lynch, who was already serving a life sentence for murder, pleaded no contest in the new case and was found guilty by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gary Cook. He is to be sentenced Oct. 16.

    In August, Lawrence Hensley, 44, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in the Sept. 20, 2012, strangulation of Toledo inmate Brad Hamlin, 24. He is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Hamlin’s death was the first at the prison since it opened in 2000.

    Toledo Correctional Institution Warden Ed Sheldon was not available for an interview Monday, according to a department of corrections spokesman. He will also not be available for an interview today, said spokesman JoEllen Smith.

    State Sen. Edna Brown (D., Toledo), who was part of the state committee to review the prison, did not return calls seeking comment. She also could not be reached after the prison report was published.

    A records request to the Highway Patrol seeking information about all reported assaults at the prison since 2010 was not fulfilled Monday night.

    Dodson, who had been incarcerated since Nov. 29, 2011, was found guilty of attempted murder and aggravated robbery after stabbing a Fostoria Subway restaurant employee, Shana Long, then 25, on Jan. 25, 2004.

    Dodson wasn’t indicted for the crimes until 2009 because he’d been in prison on unrelated charges since July, 2004.

    The state report said violence at the prison might be attributed to a 2011 move that doubled the facility's population and, in 2012, level-four maximum-security inmates were moved in.

    As of September, there were 1,272 inmates at the prison; 216 were level-four inmates.

    Dodson and his cellmate were both level-three inmates, Ms. Smith said.

    “I can assure any loss of life within our jurisdiction is taken very seriously. Violence reduction continues to be a top priority for this agency,” Ms. Smith said.

    Contact Taylor Dungjen at, or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.