Cuyahoga County Council Approves $3.5 Million For More Jail Guards

The Cuyahoga County Jail at the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland.
The Cuyahoga County Jail at the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland. [Nick Castele / ideastream]

Cuyahoga County plans to spend another $3.5 million to hire corrections officers at the jail in an effort to end “red zone” lockdowns caused by understaffing.

County Council OKed the appropriation unanimously Tuesday night. The money will allow the county to hire 60 more guards, bringing the authorized number of positions up to 675, Councilman Dale Miller said.

But Miller, who chairs the finance committee, warned that it has been difficult to hire officers.

“Since it is already February and we have had challenges filling vacancies even at the current authorized strength level, it is probable that not all of the $3.5 million appropriation will be spent in 2019,” Miller said.

Council President Dan Brady and Vice President Pernel Jones pledged last month to support the county’s effort to hire more officers and to turn over all medical services to MetroHealth. Their letter also endorsed discussions by court and county officials about reforming the bail system.

Last year’s U.S. Marshals Service report found that inmates were denied hygiene, showers, access to telephones and recreation during “red zone” lockdowns. These lockdowns could confine inmates to their cells for more than 27 hours, according to the report.

“A housing unit log book and detainee/inmate interviews indicate the ‘Red Zone’ system was in effect in one housing unit for 12 days in a row,” the report found.

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