EDITORIAL: Public needs to know

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 8, 2022

On Saturday night, five inmates escaped from the STAR Community Justice Center — not that there was any way for the public to find out about it.

When The Ironton Tribune heard about it on early Sunday morning, a reporter came in to write a story to let the public know about this possible danger.

And after an hour of calling around to local law agencies in Scioto and Lawrence County, the reporter was able to write a simple paragraph that the inmates had been knocking on doors and asking to use people’s phones in the Wheelersburg/Sciotoville area, only because it was found on the Facebook page of the Portsmouth Police Department.

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Local law enforcement dispatchers didn’t have any information available… no names, no photographs, no descriptions of the men. (That information wasn’t released until Monday afternoon.)

This is not acceptable.

While the inmates at the facility are there because of felony convictions, they are all low level, non-violent offenders who are there to get treatment for drug issues rather than spend time in prison.

Despite being non-violent offenders, if inmates have escaped, the public needs to know.

In this age of social media, the word of escaped inmates could have been quickly spread. This would not only make people aware of the situation, it could have helped officer find the inmates quicker.

A press release to local media could have helped spread the word.

In cases like this, it isn’t about a few Facebook clicks, it is very much about public safety.

While the majority of inmates were apparently rounded up without incident. There have been numerous instances where this is not the case.

There is no reason to hide the fact that inmates have escaped… it only raises questions that need answers.