By John Seewer
TOLEDO: The deadly beating of an inmate by two other prisoners armed with softball bats was the third fatal attack within the past year at Toledo Correctional Institution.
The deadly attacks over the past 12 months mark the first time since the prison opened in 2000 that it’s had a fatal inmate-on-inmate assault and come amid a rise in violence overall and concerns about overcrowding at the prison.
James Oglesby, 32, died Wednesday, three days after he was beaten inside the prison’s recreation yard, said Ricky Seyfang, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Oglesby was serving a life sentence after being convicted of aggravated murder and kidnapping in the deadly beating of a homeless man in Lorain County in 2005. He entered the prison system in 2006 and was transferred to the Toledo prison in February.
An inmate already serving a life sentence for killing three teenage girls and a Bible studies teacher received another life term for strangling a fellow prisoner last September. Another inmate is awaiting trial on charges that he strangled a prisoner in March with a rope in his cell.
Corrections officials have not said whether overcrowding played a role in the inmate deaths. The prison has reached near capacity with nearly 1,300 inmates.
Warden Ed Sheldon said earlier this year that the percentage increase of inmate-on-inmate assaults about tracks the rate of increase of the prison population. As the prison added 350 new inmates since 2011, the number of assaults at the prison also increased.
But the number of serious assaults, those requiring outside medical attention, jumped from an average of three per year to 16 last year, according to state statistics.
The new inmates included maximum security prisoners moved out of lower security facilities, and came from around the state increasing tensions among rival gangs. To accommodate them, the prison has been putting two people in a cell that originally housed one.
After the second fatal assault, the head of a legislative committee that shares oversight of the state’s prison system issued a warning.
“It is my firm belief that overcrowding will result in prison violence, and I think that this is a key example,” wrote Joanna Saul of the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee.