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Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Ohio says building jail in Slavic Village would send kids a 'terrible' message

CLE Slavic Village residents don't want new Cuyahoga jail on this site
Posted at 12:37 PM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 15:02:33-05

CLEVELAND — Representatives from The Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Ohio voiced concerns over the proposal to build a new Cuyahoga County Jail in Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood, which they say would undermine all the progress made so far in an area still reeling from the foreclosure crisis more than a decade ago.

Joseph Greathouse, director of the Broadway location of the Boys & Girls Club, said the children who live in the neighborhood shouldn't grow up in the shadow of a jail.

"Cleveland ranks number one in the county for child poverty. Don't allow the kids, and one of the city's poorest neighborhoods grow up in the shadow of a jail. By doing so, you would be...sending them a terrible message," said Greathouse.

As an educator, Saint Luke’s Club Director Early Ingram said it's frustrating to see the lack of transparency from decision-makers and the way money is being used in a time when he says schools are struggling to keep educators.

"We have to, as leadership here in the city, begin to put our actions behind our words and stop telling kids to build a future, yet the only new properties, the only new construction on new facilities that they see in our neighborhood are those that are symbolism of incarcerating them, of something that doesn't lead to the bright futures that we know that they can have," Ingram said.

Greathouse and Ingram said instead of investing millions in a new jail, the county should invest in youth-serving organizations, rehabilitation organizations and other centers that benefit the youth who live in Slavic Village and throughout Cleveland.

The protest over the construction of a new jail goes beyond Slavic Village and encompasses any residential neighborhood.

"I think the ultimate outcome for us is to see this be built in a place that isn't residential. So this is a situation where we're looking to protect our neighborhood. We're looking to protect all neighborhoods. The children of the city of Cleveland belong to everyone," Ingram said.

Read the full statement from the Boys & Girls Club here.

News 5 confirmed the more than 40-acre parcel located along I-77, between Fleet and Pershing avenues, is one of five sites under consideration by the Justice Center Executive Steering Committee in the coming months.

Kim Anderson, a lifelong Slavic Village resident, started a petition drive against the usage of her neighborhood for the new jail, collecting several hundred signatures, which will be submitted to county leaders in the coming weeks.

News 5 has reached out to the county for a statement in response to the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Ohio's protest over the proposed jail site.

RELATED: Cleveland Slavic Village residents don't want new Cuyahoga jail on this site

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