Cuyahoga County In Talks To Close Euclid Jail

Cuyahoga County headquarters in downtown Cleveland.
Cuyahoga County headquarters in downtown Cleveland. [Nick Castele / ideastream]

Updated 3:02, July 12, 2019

Five years after Cuyahoga County took over the Euclid jail, county officials are in talks with the city about closing it.

The move would allow the county to transfer guards to the overcrowded downtown facility, which was the subject of a scathing U.S. Marshals’ Service report last year.

“We’ve had such difficulty hiring more corrections officers at the main jail,” Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said after a council meeting Thursday evening. “So if we can move 20 from Euclid to the main jail it will be very helpful to us.”

Earlier this year, the county extended its lease at the Euclid jail through the end of March 2020. Budish said the goal would be to close the facility “much sooner than a year.”

“We don’t want to leave anybody in the lurch, and we’ll do what we have to do to make sure nobody is—none of our city partners are hurting,” he said.

Euclid Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail said in an emailed statement Thursday that county officials have pledged a “mutually agreeable solution” for pulling out of the jail.

“There is a lot of planning and logistics that need to be solidified concerning our inmates regarding holding, transport, housing, meals, et cetera,” Holzheimer Gail said. “It is imperative that a transition plan be agreed upon for the safety of our community.”

Transferring Euclid guards to the main jail would have a “positive effect” on the county’s staffing problems, said Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Annette Chambers-Smith.

Speaking with reporters in Columbus on Friday, she said state officials have visited the county jail “almost weekly,” offering help on staffing and use-of-force training. She also said the county had taken a good step in hiring a new jail administrator.

“With our technical assistance, them bringing in professionals that know what they’re doing, working together as a team, we’re turning around that place,” Chambers-Smith said.

County spokesperson Devyn Giannetti confirmed Friday the county has made an offer to a potential new warden.

Cuyahoga County took over Euclid’s jail in 2014 under then-Executive Ed FitzGerald as part of a regionalization plan that later included Cleveland’s and Bedford Heights’ facilities.

A 46-year-old Lakewood man died of a fentanyl overdose last August after being taken to the hospital from the Euclid jail, according to the county medical examiner.

Councilman Mike Gallagher said he would invite Euclid officials to discuss a council meeting next Tuesday.

“We will be working with them,” Gallagher said. “We have problems at Euclid, we understand that. But we’ll deal with that in committee, but hopefully by then everyone will be of an understanding that when we have a partnership, we stand by it.”

Gallagher said County Sheriff Clifford Pinkney would also testify. Pinkney plans to retire in August.

With reporting by Andy Chow at the Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau.

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