After multiple inmates escape, River City Correctional Center neighbor concerned about safety, communication

Tina Newsome stands next to the outer wall of the River City Correctional Center, which is about 20 feet from her property
Posted at 9:37 PM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 21:37:29-04

CINCINNATI — Several inmates escaped in recent weeks from the River City Correctional Center, but Tina Newsome, who lives right next to the facility, said she didn't know about it until she saw it reported on the local news.

"It's important to us to know right away," Newsome said. "Wouldn't you think you'd want to know if you lived here?"

On Tuesday, Newsome learned there's a lot she and other residents don't know about the correctional facility in their Camp Washington neighborhood.

A WCPO 9 I-Team investigation found at least 19 of River City's 170 inmates were convicted of violent felony crimes in their most recent criminal cases. The convictions include rape, felonious assault, aggravated assault and aggravated robbery.

The I-Team shared our findings with Newsome.

"I never had a dream all those people were over there," she said. "It's gonna put me more on alert now."

Tina Newsome
Tina Newsome

River City is a "diversion" community-based correctional center focusing on treatment and reentry programs and for low-level felony offenders, according to the facility's executive director Scott McVey.

"I wouldn't say that we're not secure," McVey said last week during a news conference. "We're just not secure to the level of most jails or prisons. The level of offender that we get here is typically not at that level either."

River City Correctional Center Executive Director Scott McVey
River City Correctional Center Executive Director Scott McVey

But the I-Team found inmates with long histories of violent crime.

One inmate is there on judicial release after serving more than a decade in prison for pistol-whipping two women. Another has been convicted four times of aggravated or felonious assault since 1998.

Eight months ago, he used a knife to cut a man in his stomach and chest. After he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge, a judge sentenced him here.

River City correctional.JPG

On July 9, two inmates — Shawn Black and Thomas Cromwell — jumped out of a window at River City and escaped. McVey said it took staff 10 hours to discover they had escaped.

Cromwell held a woman at knife point during a 12-hour standoff at a Mason motel. Police shot and killed him.

Officers caught Black and charged him with escape.

A third River City inmate, Joseph McIntosh, escaped in early July while on a work assignment. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

McVey has declined the I-Team's requests for an interview to discuss the escapes, how long it took to notify law enforcement inmates had escaped and why the correctional center doesn't notify residents when an inmate escapes or walks away.

After learning that violent offenders are housed at River City, Newsome said it's more important than ever for the facility and/or police to notify the community when an inmate escapes.

"That is very important for us," she said. "I'm back there in my garage and the doors are open. You don't know who's going to walk up that alley."