Cuyahoga County Sheriff To Hire Prisons Expert Following Series Of Deaths

Cuyahoga County Sheriff Clifford Pinkney at a press conference in 2015
Cuyahoga County Sheriff Clifford Pinkney at a press conference in 2015 [Nick Castele / ideastream]

The Cuyahoga County sheriff is asking the county council to fund an independent investigation into the county jail. In the past four months, six inmates have died while in the county correctional system.

Sheriff Clifford Pinkney said in a written statement Thursday that his office “will do what is necessary and required to ensure the safety of everyone who is placed in our jail.”

He plans to hire an expert in correctional facilities best practices “to do a thorough, independent assessment of the entire jail operation.”

Pinkney’s statement highlighted the problems facing jail systems nationwide.

“Our jails have become a site for placement of those with severe drug problems, emotional problems and suicidal tendencies,” the statement read. “But these complexities do not relieve us of our responsibility to the safety and welfare of our inmates.”

Earlier this week, Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Michael Nelson told Cleveland.com he would no longer send defendants charged with nonviolent crimes to the county jail due to the string of recent deaths.

Cuyahoga County operates a jail downtown, an annex in Euclid and the Bedford Heights Comprehensive Re-Entry programming Center.

A spokesperson for County Executive Armond Budish says he “expects the sheriff to select a qualified firm very soon.”

The causes of each of the inmate deaths is under investigation.

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