Cuyahoga County judges: Inmates with mental illness aren't receiving treatment, medications at jail

CLEVELAND - For the second time this week, county judges have severely criticized county jail officials for poor conditions at the facility. 

On Friday, News 5 learned that five Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judges sent a letter to Akram Boutros, the president and chief executive officer of MetroHealth Systems, blasting conditions and hospital staffing levels at the county jail for inmates with mental illness.

Earlier this week, we learned that Judge John J. Russo sent a letter to Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish calling out the lack of staffing in the jail and in the courthouse.

RELATED: Judge slams county jail and court conditions

The most recent letter was sent from Judges Hollie L. Gallagher, Robert C. McClelland, Deena R. Calabrese, Michael P. Shaughnessy and Shannon M. Gallagher, who oversee inmates with serious mental health illnesses while incarcerated.

The letter claims that the lack of medical personnel at the Cuyahoga County Jail fails to meet the needs of the inmates who reside in the facility. The letter states that the jail's psychiatrist left the position in April and has not been replaced. It also states that the director of nursing position remains vacant. 

The current staff at the facility, the judges said, is overburdened and overworked. Inmates face delays for treatment, sometimes waiting a month or longer just to be seen by the lone nurse practitioner, the letter said.

"It is our belief that this is a population that requires staffing twenty-four hours a day, but at the very least seven days a week," the judges wrote in the letter.

The judges also pointed out issues with prescription medications not being filled for patients at the jail. According to the judges, inmates have been refused access to specific "successful and appropriate medications," due to some medications not being on the jail's formulary list.

"Changing psychiatric medications can have adverse effects on an individual's mental health stability," the judges wrote. 

The judges asked for an immediate response from MetroHealth about the issues at the jail.

"These problems need to be addressed yesterday," the judges wrote.

You can read the full letter from the five judges to MetroHealth Systems below:

News 5 has reached out to MetroHealth for comment.

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