Watchdog report shows Ross Correctional Institution needed to address drugs inside prison

Ross Correctional Institution (WBNS-10TV)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WBNS) – State inspectors with a prison watchdog group found that the Ross Correctional Institution needed to improve its control of illegal substances coming into the prison, according to a 2016 report reviewed by 10 Investigates.

That 2016 report provides a window into the prison and may be of high interest after 29 people, including an inmate, guards and nurses were treated Wednesday for symptoms of overdoses after being exposed to an unknown substance at the RCI, a state prison in Chillicothe.

Most were treated or released from an area hospital.

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Synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil carry an exposure risk that can lead to an overdose with human contact.

The 2016 report was issued by the Correctional Institutional Inspection Committee, a state watchdog group for correctional facilities.

The report noted that in 2015, more than 10 percent of the inmates tested positive for an illegal substance, which was significantly more in comparison to 2014.

The same report also found that the percentage of inmates who tested positive in 2015 was the highest in the state that year.

Inmates there tested positive for drugs like marijuana and Suboxone, which is designed to help ween heroin users off opiates.

The same year of the report, inspectors noted that Ross Correctional Institution also tested more inmates than other Ohio prisons "indicating the institution is working to identify inmates who are participating in the use of illegal substances.”

The CIIC noted that there is a 2017 inspection but it has not been made public. 10 Investigates is requesting a copy.

The problem with illegal substances like drugs coming into correctional facilities isn't new -- but it has evolved amid the country's opioid crisis.

In July, 10 Investigates found that 40 of Ohio's 88 county jails have purchased body scanners in an effort to stop illegal contraband like fentanyl or heroin from entering correctional facilities. Several counties like Fayette, Franklin and Montgomery – to name a few – have had inmates die from suspected overdoses while in jail.

The body scanner devices work like x-ray machines to scan incoming inmates who might be trying to smuggle drugs into a correctional facility.

When it comes to the number of Ohio state prisons with body scanners - the numbers drop.

State health department records show only the WORTH Center in Lima and the Pickaway Correctional Institution are listed as having body scanners.

Calls and emails placed to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction seeking clarity and updated information were not returned.

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