CLEVELAND — Vocal community activists rallied in front of the Justice Center Thursday afternoon, calling for immediate changes inside the Cuyahoga County Jail. They claim one year after the county council was informed about life-threatening conditions inside, little has been done to make the jail safer.
Dozens of demonstrators from more than a dozen community organizations participated in the protest on Lakeside Avenue downtown.
“County council should come see for themselves what it looks like, it feels, smells, tastes like in the jail, let them come spend one night there,” shouted one participant.
Last November, U.S. Marshals released a scathing report, detailing inhumane and unsafe conditions inside the Cuyahoga County jail. Two weeks ago, the ninth inmate in less than a year died while in county custody.
Protesters, including former inmates, say the poor conditions have not changed.
“The Ohio Kennel Club would probably love to take over this place because then, maybe it will be humane, but right now it’s not,” said former inmate Rayshon Reese.
“I know I wanted to die when I was in there…it’s not right. We need treatment…recovering addicts like myself need treatment. We do not need to go somewhere where we experience more pain and suffering,” said a woman who spent time in the jail.
“I have PTSD from my time in the service and I wasn’t allowed and was refused to give my anti-anxiety medicine while I was in there,” said Devin Climaco, who says he spent seven days in the jail last December.
In recent months, there have been leadership changes in the jail and several corrections officers have been indicted on various charges.
Protesters say none of that has made the jail safer.
“We support, right now, Cleveland Judge Michael Nelson’s call for a federal takeover of this jail,” shouted a protester.
“It is wrong to lock up people because they are poor and cannot afford bail of less than $150,” said another demonstrator.