‘Not made for safety’: Sheriff warns of jail issues as feds join search for Ray Co. inmate

The Ray County Sheriff is warning that safety issues are to blame for the escape of a dangerous inmate from the county jail, as federal agencies including the U.S. Marshals and the Department of Homeland Security have joined in the search for the inmate.

Justin Robinson, 40, fled the jail and was last seen at 2:45 a.m. Tuesday in the area of Spartan Drive and East Main Street in Richmond, said Ray County Sheriff Scott Childers.

Childers said due to the poor jail conditions, Robinson and another inmate were able to fashion a piece of the rusted jail wall into a shank that the two used to attack a jail worker and flee. Officials found the other inmate, but haven’t seen Robinson.

Robinson was charged in January with several counts of first-degree domestic assault and endangering the welfare of a child for stabbing his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach. Authorities say he is considered a danger to the community.

Officials said he was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and dark shorts. Robinson is 5 feet and 10 inches tall and weighs 185 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes.

Since he became sheriff in 2021, Childers said he’s noticed safety and security issues at the jail, including mold and mildew, metal ceilings that are easy to kick in and rusted floors and walls. Before his tenure, Childers said at least four inmates had escaped from the jail.

The jail was originally built to hold low-level criminals, and Childers said it isn’t equipped to house violent offenders.

“It’s just not made for safety,” he said. “It’s not made for a county jail. The building is not salvageable.”

Ray County residents previously voted against a sales tax increase that would have gone towards purchasing a new jail.