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Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio opposes Slavic Village site for new county jail

The proposed jail site is on unused land by I-77, not far from Downtown Cleveland. [Matthew Richmond / Ideastream Public Media]
A vacant field covered in snow in Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio is adding its name to the list of organizations and people opposed to building a new county jail in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood.

In a statement, BGC of Northeast Ohio described Cuyahoga County’s consideration of a location by Interstate 77 near the end of Pershing Avenue as “misguided and secretive” and “a flagrant slap in the face to all the young people who find hope and inspiration at our flagship Broadway Boys & Girls Club.”

The county is considering four sites identified by a real estate consultant and a fifth site submitted directly by the public during a separate open bidding process. The possibility of building the jail in Slavic Village, first reported on by Cleveland.com, is the only option to garner public opposition so far.

Slavic Village Councilmember Rebecca Maurer and her predecesser Anthony Brancatelli both oppose building the jail there.

Earl Ingram, director of the St. Luke’s Manor branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs, said they oppose building a jail anywhere near a residential neighborhood.

“We have to, as leadership here in the city, begin to put our actions behind our words, stop telling kids they are the future yet the only new properties, the only new construction, the only new facilities that they see in their neighborhoods are those that are a symbol of incarcerating them,” Ingram said.

The county estimates building a new jail will cost $500 million, and County Executive Armond Budish has proposed using revenue from a convention center sales tax to pay for it.

Site selection is ongoing and county officials overseeing the process plan to pick a site in March.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media who focuses on criminal justice.