State Inspection Of Cuyahoga County Jail Finds 84 Violations

The county jail and courtrooms are found in Cuyahoga County's Justice Center in downtown Cleveland. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
Cuyahoga County Justice Center in downtown Cleveland where the county jail is located. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
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The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction found the Cuyahoga County jail in compliance with 51 state standards and in violation of 84 of them.

The state’s report comes nearly three months after the U.S. Marshal’s Service released its report, dated November 21, calling conditions at the jail “inhumane.”

The marshals conducted their review from October 30 to November 1, 2018. The state inspected the jail days later on November 6.

The state says of the 84 standards not met, Cuyahoga County was not in compliance with 35 that were “essential” and 49 that were “important.”

Noted at the beginning of the state report is overcrowding. The state recommended a maximum of 1,765 inmates. On the date of the inspection, the facility housed 2,202 inmates. The report also noted several violations of state standards for overcrowding in individual holding cells and sleeping space for inmates.

The state found inmates were not given showers or provided clean clothes when their clothing was soiled or infested. Inmates with special needs were not properly classified or included in programs during “red zone” periods. During those times inmates are placed on lockdown because of staff shortages, typically because of employees calling in sick. Inmates were also denied professional services from attorneys of record or clergy during these periods.

Many standards the jail failed to meet, according to the state, were due to improper documentation or notification. Inmate rules were not available during intake. The jail did not provide records of training for employees in emergency planning, review of incident reports and use of force incidents.

Unsecured culinary equipment, inoperable showers and toilets, insects in the showers, vermin in the food area and general cleanliness issues were also cited throughout the report, with the state document noting what the U.S. Marshal’s report had found. State standards say weekly cleaning and changing of linens should be documented. The report also found that evacuation plans had not been approved by local fire officials.

Another section of the state inspection focused on health issues, starting with a lack of documentation for screening inmates and a subsequent plan for those with mental health issues. Evidence of sick calls, visits from a physician, were not provided for the Bedford Heights facility. Many policies had not been approved or reviewed by a health authority. Menu cycles and inmates needing special diets were not reviewed by a dietician or nutritionist.

Last month, the county announced MetroHealth Medical Center will take over all aspects of health care for the jail.

Inmates also expressed fear of retribution for speaking out against conditions at the jail.

After the U.S. Marshal’s report was released, several county officials said juveniles had been separated from adult inmates, cited in both reports, and they had ordered new food trays and had the facility exterminated for vermin. The agreement with MetroHealth is also expected to improve the inmate screening process and care for those with mental health problems.

A statement from Cuyahoga County Chief of Public Safety and Justice Brandy Carney said the county has been “aggressively working” to address issues raised by the Marshal’s report and has made “significant progress.”

“We have addressed a majority of the findings referenced and are identifying and following up on others with urgency,” Carney’s statement read. She noted the state's inspections in the past have found the jail in compliance.

 

 

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