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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The three inmates who briefly escaped from an Ohio prison earlier this month, including a convicted school shooter, all had numerous discipline problems behind bars, according to newly released records.
Lindsey Bruce, Clifford Opperud and T.J. Lane, who shot and killed three high school students in Chardon east of Cleveland in 2012, were all disciplined at one time or another for not following rules, according to records released Tuesday and earlier this month.
Bruce and Opperud were cellmates, Tuesday's records revealed, and the day after their Sept. 11 escape, a search of their cell turned up a contraband TV.
All three were transferred from Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution in Lima to the so-called Supermax state prison in Youngstown after being captured.
Opperud, 45, was disciplined in 2011 for being too close to a fence at Oakwood Correctional Facility during recreation. Oakwood was a stand-alone prison at the time next to Allen Correctional. Since then, it has been closed, with a portion used for a protective control unit to house inmates at risk of harm from other inmates.
Bruce, Opperud and Lane were all housed in that unit. Officials say they scaled a fence to cross the roof of an entryway before escaping. Criminal and administrative investigations are underway.
"Opperud waited until the rec officer went inside then he went out of place again towards the east fence," said a July 8, 2011, report.
Opperud pleaded guilty to the administrative charge, saying without explanation, "I was amazed by the green tomatoes."
Opperud was disciplined in 2010 for failing to report to his early morning job in the dining area, with a note that said, "This inmate has had several direct orders in the past and keep refusing to report."
Opperud's explanation was that he didn't go to work because he hadn't gone to breakfast.
At the time of the escape, Opperud was incarcerated on charges of robbery, burglary and kidnapping out of Warren County in southwestern Ohio.
In February, Bruce, 33, was disciplined for being in a shower area when he was supposed to be in his cell. The report noted, "This inmate appears to always be out of his cell after nine pm." Bruce did not provide a defense, records show.
Bruce was also disciplined for fighting, and assaulting an inmate, and for disobeying guards' orders, the records show.
In 2009, he was disciplined for having records pertaining to his case, including a photo of the skull of the 5-year-old girl he was convicted of killing in Franklin County, in violation of prison rules. "I did not know that we could not keep them," Bruce said in his defense, according to the report.
Earlier reports show Lane, 20, was frequently disciplined, including citations for refusing to participate in education classes, having marijuana in his system and giving himself three tattoos.
All three were recaptured within hours of their Sept. 11 escape.
The state announced Tuesday it will pay corrections consultants $50,000 for their review of security following the escape.
The contract with the Association of State Correctional Administrators will examine all aspects of the unit where the three inmates were housed.
The contract includes a review of supervision levels and inmate movement, and recommendations for improvements to housing arrangements and other operations.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.
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