I-Team: Taxpayers stuck with bill for damage in juvenile jail riot in Cleveland

CLEVELAND- The FOX 8 I-Team has found taxpayers will, in fact, get stuck with the bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage at a local juvenile jail even though six teenage inmates now face charges.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley announced the charges for a riot last week inside the Cuyahoga Juvenile Detention Center. He said the six inmates are 14 and 15 years old; they planned the uprising, and three tried to escape.

Meantime, we asked the question on the minds of so many taxpayers. The I-Team first revealed pictures of the damage inside, and officials estimate the value of the damage at about $200,000.

So who’s going to pay for that?

Prosecutor O’Malley said, "Taxpayers will have to foot the bill for this.” He pointed out, a judge could order the kids to pay as part of any sentence, but don’t count on it. The kids don’t come from rich families. He added, "Certainly, that can be made a part of their sentence. But being realistic, I don't think taxpayers will ever see a dime as a result of this."

In fact, we went looking for the families of some of the teen inmates involved using addresses from court records. We found multiple homes we visited were vacant.

Meantime, this comes as the I-Team keeps digging to find out was the detention center prepared? The union for guards has complained of short staffing. We've now confirmed the lock-up has been operating with a shortage of detention officers. We found unfilled positions and officers taken off the job for disciplinary reasons.

The juvenile court says the last incident with a SWAT team before this case happened back in 2013. Multiple law enforcement sources have told us they can’t remember the last drill there to prepare for what happened last week. A court spokesperson says there have been “walk-throughs."

Through it all, the prosecutor is calling for more staff there and a change in management.

A spokesperson for the judges overseeing the detention center issued a statement saying, “Management changes are currently in progress. We are also working to hire more staff in the Detention Center.”

The prosecutor says the new charges could keep the teens involved in this case locked up until they’re 21. But, some of the charges they already face could also take them into adult court where they could face more time behind bars.

Continuing coverage.