Sex, Bribes and Drugs Are The Norm in Dayton, OH Prison

Three Dayton Correctional Institution employees have been fired since January for inappropriate relationships with inmates, including the man whose job was to investigate wrongdoing by prison guards, according to records obtained by the I-Team.

This brings to seven the number of DCI workers who have lost their jobs for getting too familiar with inmates since the prison became all-female in 2012.

Dayton-correctional-Institution-01An I-Team story published last summer found that investigations skyrocketed at the prison after the switch, and revealed relationships that included violations ranging from sex and romance to sharing food.

“I think it’s frankly unacceptable for staff and inmates to be having that sort of relationship,” said state Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miami Twp., on Friday. “I think we need to do a thorough investigation and I call on the Department of Corrections to do that, to correct these issues.”

Records obtained by the I-Team using Ohio’s public records laws show investigator Terrance Griffin was fired in January after an investigation concluded that he disabled the recording function on his phone to have secret, unauthorized conversations with inmates on a private “snitch line.”

He also allegedly gave commissary items and electronics to inmates for information, documents say.

“Without authorization this is considered preferential treatment,” investigators wrote in documents supporting his dismissal. “Your actions constitute a threat to the security of the institution, compromise your ability to perform your duties as an investigator and demonstrate a failure of good behavior.”

Griffin’s title was correctional warden assistant and his job included investigating inappropriate staff-inmate relationships, contraband smuggling and other prison policy violations.

He was terminated Jan. 16 after being on paid leave for nearly five months. Griffin’s gross compensation for 2014 was $70,703, according to state payroll records. He worked for the state since 1992.

Griffin has appealed his removal with the State Personnel Board of Review, according to state prison officials.

Aaron Hunter, whose job title was general activities therapist, was removed from his job Jan. 27 after an internal investigation found that on July 15 he engaged “in inappropriate contact and/or behavior with several inmates under your supervision.”

Hunter was compensated $35,596 in 2014, according to state payroll data, and worked at DCI since 2012.

Activity therapist administrator Cedric Tolbert was removed March 9. Investigative records refer to letters from an inmate that “indicate that an unauthorized personal relationship existed between you and the inmate.”

Records say Tolbert attended the funeral of an inmate’s grandfather and visited her family, including her grandmother and cousin, brought breakfast to their house and gave the grandmother $150 for the inmate.

Tolbert’s gross pay in 2014 was $60,308. He was on paid leave pending the investigation since July 14.

Warden transferred

Removal letters for all three prison workers are signed by Wanza Jackson, who took over as warden of the prison after Jeff Lisath was transferred to Pickaway Correctional Institution in December. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction officials say Lisath’s transfer was a lateral move.

“Warden Lisath was transferred during a series of personnel changes and because Pickaway Correctional Institution is closer to his home,” said state prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith.

Warden Jackson was not made available for an interview this week.

While DCI has dealt with a surge of problem relationships between state workers and inmates, it has not experienced problems this year with contracted food workers that other facilities have seen.

Since January, six food services workers with the company Aramark have been banned from working at prisons across Ohio because of unauthorized or inappropriate relationships. None were at DCI.

DCI inmates have complained about the culture and conditions of the prison.

Caron Miller’s daughter, Renee Saunders, has seven more months to serve at DCI on robbery and weapons charges. Miller said her daughter tells her stories of drugs, violence and workers pressuring inmates for sex.

“I pray for my child every night,” she said. “I just ask God to shield my child.”