By Glenn Forbes
Posted December 12th 2018
Nearly 50 people protested outside the Cuyahoga County Adminstrative building ahead of Tuesday night’s council meeting in an effort to pressure officials to make improvements at the county jail. A recent U.S. Marshals report called the conditions at the facility “inhumane”.
A coalition of advocacy groups presented a list of demands to the county council. The list resembles some of the recommendations issued by federal inspectors to correct problems including overcrowding, juveniles housed with adults, and medical and mental health issues. The group is also asking for bail reform and increased funding for re-entry services.
County Executive Armond Budish called the Marshals report “devastating” and said fixing the jail is the county’s highest priority. In a written statement, Budish said the county has fixed more than a quarter of the problems addressed in the report.
“Withholding food is not being used as a punishment. Shower cutains have been installed to maintain privacy. There are no pregnant women sleeping on the floor. We are actively working on issues in the kitchen. We have Orkin coming in regularly to treat for pests,” Budish said.
He added that MetroHealth has agreed to take over the medical program next year and the county will be using the American Corrections Association to help fix “the most difficult problems.” The county is also working to create a mental health diversion center and a plan for a new, more modern jail.
Last week, Public Safety and Justice Affairs commitee chair Michael Gallagher said he was disappointed that Sheriff Clifford Pinkney did not present a comprehensive plan for the jail and requested that Pinkney have one available for the public at an upcoming hearing but no date was set.
Budish in October requested the U.S. Marshals inspect the county jail after seven inmates died between June and October.