Summit County Jail Task Force Proposes More Services For Inmates

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An advisory commission is recommending staffing changes and more services for inmates at the Summit County jail, a year after a man went into cardiac arrest while in custody and died.

The report recommends reopening two jail gymnasiums, adding more beds for mental health care and expanding the library into a resource center where detainees could seek out jobs and benefits.

“The inmates there, they don’t have anywhere to exercise. They have nowhere to relieve or alleviate stress. So they’re just there,” Democratic County Councilman David Hamilton, who led the commission, told council members. “They’re not learning, they’re not getting any educational value because the library isn’t open.”

The report also says the sheriff’s office should reorganize shift times and offer more training for deputies and medical staff. The report proposes assigning more deputies to the main jail facility by replacing the deputies at the secondary Glenwood Jail with corrections officers.

The recommendations come from a commission that includes Summit County officials, the Akron mayor’s office, the local NAACP chapter and others.

Hamilton said the work isn’t over yet.

“We’re going to keep meeting, because we want to actually now focus our efforts on the mental health piece,” he said.

The jail houses 647 inmates on average, about a third of whom take mental health medication, according to the sheriff’s 2017 annual report.

County council launched the review in October last year. The month before, 36-year-old detainee Antony Jones went into cardiac arrest while being restrained. He died the next day.

Jones had a history of mental illness. A lawsuit by his estate alleges that deputies struck and used a Taser on him during an altercation before placing him in a restraint chair.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office has not yet responded to the suit in court. The Stark County Prosecutor’s Office, which handled the case, declined to bring charges earlier this year.

Summit County is also moving to add more security cameras throughout the jail.

“We have to have cameras in the jail to eliminate all blind spots,” Hamilton told council members. “I’m sure you all know, with the death of Antony Jones, one of the issues was the fact that there weren’t cameras where the actual altercation happened.”

Read the full report below. Mobile users can read here.


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