CLEVELAND — Sunday brought a bittersweet homecoming for one Cleveland man who spent the last four years and nine months behind bars.
“I miss life. I miss freedom. I appreciate everything,” Cedrick Lindsay said.
Lindsay wants to tell his story about being beaten by corrections officers and hospitalized to bring attention to the treatment of inmates at state correctional facilities.
“I think the reason why this continues is because, this right here, what we're doing hasn't happened yet. I have to devote my life to it for the next generation, because clearly not much has changed,” Lindsay said. “You really see someone's son. You see someone's brother. You see someone's father.”
For the first time in nearly five years, the 27-year-old will sleep in his own bed after a home-cooked Sunday meal with family and friends.
“I want to go down to Tower City and get some Chinese food whenever we get a chance,” Lindsay said.
Lindsay was released from Madison Correctional Institution Sunday morning after serving several years behind bars for a series of felonies.
“I had mental afflictions get the best of me. I had a breakdown,” Lindsay said. “Now I get another chance. I'm alive. It feels good. I feel like I'm not going to be able to enjoy it until I have peace of mind in terms of what's happening to the inmates that are still there.”
Lindsay’s path to redemption was paved with struggles and he is now advocating for those still behind bars at the facility in London, Ohio.
“I escaped with my life. They're going through it right now. I care about them,” Lindsay said. “The people that are in the hole for various reasons, we cannot in any type of way look out for each other. We can't hear each other. We can't see each other. We have no way to communicate with each other. ‘Hey, man, are you okay?'"
Lindsay said he was severely beaten by corrections officers just hours after being transferred to the facility in November 2020.
“I was in handcuffs. It was eight people. They had mace. I was in handcuffs. I didn't stand a chance. They sprayed me. They beat me. They were holding up my arms spraying my eyes. They opened up my mouth and sprayed inside my mouth with mace,” Lindsay said. “White, Black, Puerto Rican. It doesn't matter what you are. They hold you down and they beat you. Those are human beings that this is happening to.”
In an incident report conducted by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, nearly a dozen corrections officers were interviewed and multiple corrections officers stated Lindsay was combative and resisting. Several corrections officers said they struck Lindsay with their fists.
Lindsay was hospitalized for his injuries one day after the altercation.
However, a spokesperson for the OSHP told News 5 prosecutors declined to charge anyone involved in the incident.
“There’s footage of this and yet still no type of justice. My case was in the grand jury and apparently them seeing that wasn't enough evidence to prosecute,” Lindsay said. “I didn't deserve that and I'm willing to speak up for myself and say that.”
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction responded to News 5's request for comment with the following written statement Sunday:
“The findings of our internal investigation are being reviewed."
Lindsay acknowledged his past mistakes and understands the hurt his crimes inflicted, but said he wants to share his story to inspire real change behind the four walls of prison facilities.
“I have chemical burns to this day. I can't see,” Lindsay said. “They're getting away with it. I don't like it. I hope that the public doesn’t like it.”
Lindsay said the first step in prison reform begins with accountability.
“I think that the change honestly starts with body cameras. I think the COs should wear body cameras,” Lindsay said. “Lebanon, Ohio and Mansfield probably have the worst reputations among prisons. I've never seen anyone get beat like that in Lebanon or in Mansfield.”
Lindsay plans to devote the next chapter of his life to advocating for prison reform and letting other inmates know there is light among the darkness.
“Any type of way to communicate to let them know, ‘Hey, you're not alone,’” Lindsay said. “That's why I'm willing to be outspoken about this, because this is bigger than my life.”