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Cuyahoga County Jail Inspection Shows Problems Persist

 Cuyahoga County Jail. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
Cuyahoga County Jail. [Nick Castele / ideastream]

Improvements at the Cuyahoga County Jail are progressing slowly and many problems persist, including issues with medical care and forced lock downs, according to the results of a recent state inspection.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections to conduct monthly inspections of the jail after nine prisoner deaths at the facility, eight in 2018 and one so far in 2019.

Reports of prisoner mistreatment and poor sanitary conditions also surfaced during a probe of the jail by the U.S. Marshals last year. That reported detailed what they called “inhumane” conditions, such as limited access to medical care and food being withheld as punishment.

Ohio Bureau of Adult Detention Administrator John Adams issued a letter detailing the findings from a July 3 visit, the second such inspection by state officials, noting some areas of improvement, including plans to hire more staff and new process to keep the jail clean.

The inspectors reported, however, that sanitation is still an issue inside the facility. They observed areas that were "unclean" and pointed out lingering issues in the kitchen.

Adams also noted that forced lockdowns are still a problem. The lockdowns, which jail officials call "Red Zoning," happen not for disciplinary reasons but due to staffing shortages. On June 16, "there were 36 call-offs on first shift and 26 on the second shift," Adams said.

The letter also detailed problems with inmate medical care on site and those who are returning from the hospital. Jail officials are not adequately tracking inmates who are intoxicated or need detox, Adams wrote.

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish requested the marshals’ investigation last year. Since the release of the marshals’ report, prosecutors have charged the former jail director, former warden and several corrections officers with a laundry list of felonies and misdemeanors.

DeWine last month ordered the state to conduct the monthly inspections of the Cuyahoga County Jail, threatening "additional legal action" if conditions do not improve.

Neither the state corrections department nor a county spokesperson responded to ideastream’s request for comment.


Marlene Harris-Taylor
Marlene is the director of engaged journalism at Ideastream Public Media.