U.S. Marshals Waiting To Resume Housing Detainees At Cuyahoga County Jail

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, flanked by city and county officials in 2017, announcing agreement to begin taking Cleveland prisoners at the county jail.
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, flanked by city and county officials in 2017, announcing agreement to begin taking Cleveland prisoners at the county jail. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]
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Three months after a report detailing problems at the Cuyahoga County Jail, the U.S. Marshals Service says it has not returned its detainees to the downtown jail.

In November, the U.S. Marshal’s office in Washington released a report on the county jail system that described a long list of what it called “inhumane” conditions.

U.S. Marshal Peter Elliot, head of the Cleveland office, stopped bringing detainees to the jail downtown.

In an interview this week with Cleveland.com, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said many of the issues with the jail have been addressed and inmates’ constitutional rights are being protected.

But Elliot told ideastream that the Service will wait until another review of the downtown jail is completed before it resumes use of the facility. For now, Service detainees are incarcerated at the jail in Euclid.

"As soon as we feel comfortable bringing them back, we will, but we're not there yet," said Elliot.

Elliot said the county hasn’t formally disputed any of the findings in the November report or contacted the Marshals Service about another inspection.

A county spokesperson says they are working to address some of the issues identified in the Marshal's report and have not asked for another review.

Plan to Address Detainees' Mental Health In Early Stages

In the same interview, Budish mentioned a plan to possibly build a stand-alone mental health facility in partnership with an outside organization like St. Vincent Charity Medical Center.

He did not provide many details about that facility, beyond that people who are eligible could be diverted to a mental health program rather than locked in jail.

County Councilman Michael Gallagher, chair of the Public Safety and Justic Affairs Committee, said councilmembers hadn't heard about that facility before it was announced in the press.

"I don't know how you go public with something like that without talking to us at council about it," said Gallagher.

He added that the new facility runs counter to a recent deal reached with MetroHealth, the county's public hospital system, to staff the jail with nurses.

"I would imagine Metro would be the one you would be talking to about extended psychiatric services," said Gallagher.

A county spokesperson says the plans for the mental health diversion facility are still in the early stages.

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