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State inspection finds jail violated nearly two-thirds of standards evaluated

Cuyahoga County says problems being addressed
Posted at 6:57 PM, Feb 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 18:58:01-05

CLEVELAND — Jail inspectors found Cuyahoga County jail violated 84 of the 135 state standards inspectors looked at according to a report released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

According to the report, the jail was in compliance with 51 standards, but didn't comply with 84. The state labeled 35 of those "essential" standards.

The inspection took place November 6, weeks before the release of the damning US Marshal's report on conditions inside the jail.

Many of the state's findings mirrored those found by the Marshal's team.

That included:

  • Overcrowding that had inmates sleeping on mattresses on the floor
  • "Red zoning" in which inmates are locked down and denied exercise, access to books and newspapers as well as drug and alcohol treatment
  • Inmates reported "they fear making formal complaints due to retaliation from staff members"
  • A lack of records for inmate deaths that occurred in 2018
  • Unsanitary conditions including dirty floors and equipment in the food service area and insects in the showers

State inspectors also cited the jail for failing to separate violent and non-violent offenders during processing.

They also found the county did not provide documentation showing inmates were being pre-screened for suicidal thoughts and medical issues or that the screenings were conducted by staff that wasn't health trained.

Eight jail inmates died in 2018.

The jail also lacked documentation showing bedding and mattresses were cleaned before being re-issued to other inmates according to inspectors.

Inspectors also found temperatures in cell blocks ranged from 52 to 60 degrees.

The county has 45 days to submit plans to correct the problems to ODRC.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Cuyahoga County Chief Public Safety & Justice Brandy Carney wrote:

"Previous state reports held us in compliance. This most recent state report is the result of a November 6th inspection which was done after the Marshal’s report which we requested.
Since the Marshal’s report we have been aggressively working on fixing each issue raised and have made significant progress. We have addressed a majority of the findings referenced and are identifying and following up on others with urgency."

RELATED: U.S. Marshals pulling out of downtown county jail following damning report