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Council members frustrated by lack of a plan for jail

Sheriff says he needs more time
Posted at 6:20 PM, Dec 04, 2018
and last updated 2019-01-08 17:01:56-05

Cuyahoga County Council members who were hopeful to hear the administration's plan to fix the troubled county jail learned Tuesday they'll have to wait.

"We are still working at that...the plan," Sheriff Cliff Pinkney told the council's Public Safety committee Tuesday, nearly two weeks after a damning report by the US Marshal's raised questions of safety and conditions inside the lock-up.

Pinkney said he was still waiting on information from other counties about how they staff their jails, as well as results of a recent state inspection.

"How do you justify waiting for a state report that I can tell you isn't going to give an A+ to seven deaths in three months?" asked Councilman Scott Tuma in a reference to recent inmate deaths in the jail.

The meeting, which at times featured heated exchanges between members of the administration and council, provided few clear answers or solutions to problems.

"There's the track, throw the bodies," Councilman Michael Gallagher urged the sheriff.

"Well, I really respect that, I really do," said Pinkney.  "And you know me. That's not who I am. I'm focused on, it's broke, I want to fix it."

But some on council believe it's time they get a full picture of problems at Cuyahoga County jail, and what's needed to fix them.

"I'm disappointed, I'm disappointed," said Gallagher. "But I think it's fair to give people time to do the right thing, and if doing the right thing takes a little more time, which we really don't have, but we have to afford them the opportunity to do the right thing."

Council members warned if the county executive's office didn't give the sheriff the authority to run the jail, council members were open to putting an issue on the ballot that would allow voters to directly elect the sheriff.

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