Cuyahoga County Council Reacts To Death Of Eighth Jail Inmate

Council President Dan Brady next to Councilman Jack Schron and councilwoman Yvonne Conwell
Cuyahoga County Council on Wednesday re-elected Dan Brady as council president. [Glenn Forbes / ideastream]

Following the weekend death of an inmate at the Cuyahoga County jail, county council president Dan Brady pledged to continue to shape plans to improve conditions there.

"We have been working for over a year to try to provide better health services to the jail system, and we'll continue to do that," Brady said. "We have a strong consensus on the council for that."

District 2 Councilman Dale Miller said county officials had ample warning about the mental health of 27-year old Brenden Kiekisz before his attempted suicide in the county jail last Thursday. He was on life support for three days before dying at MetroHealth Medical Center on Sunday. Cleveland.com reported Kiekisz hanged himself while awaiting a transfer to an inpatient treatment center in Highland Hills just hours after a court hearing Thursday.

"There was a prior suicide attempt, and secondly, this person had a history of mental illness," Miller said. "This is the kind of person we should try to divert from the jail facilities in the first place."

Kiekisz was the eighth jail inmate to die in 2018. Late last year, an investigation by the U.S. Marshals Service called conditions at the jail "inhumane."

Brady said the latest death was "devastating and yes, it means that there's a great deal of urgency on this issue. And I know myself I'll be having a significant meeting on Friday trying to work toward resolving parts of this."

The council president said that's when he will meet with Sheriff Clifford Pinkney to get an update on conditions at the jail and to discuss a comprehensive plan for the future.

He said any questions about confidence in Sheriff Pinkney would be better answered by County Executive Armond Budish, but he added, the current system of a sheriff appointed by the county executive has not been effective.

"For the last eight years, sheriffs have had limited authority from what they had in the past, and that may not mean electing a sheriff, but it may mean making sure that the sheriff has autonomy," Brady said. "It may be time to look at some legislation that would at least strengthen the sheriff's autonomy in that office."

On Wednesday, county council unanimously re-elected Brady as council president and Pernel Jones vice president.

After the vote, Brady said these are challenging times for council and familiarity helps.

"I'm glad to have veteran council people and some stability in the council at this time," Brady said.

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