CLEVELAND — The FOX 8 I-Team found local activists, pastors, city and community leaders, frustrated at the lack of answers they are getting as they continue to push for the release of a 60-year-old man who has been jailed for 90 days for housing violations.
“I don’t know why he is still in there,” said Marcia McCoy of the National Action Network, who has been trying for over a week to help get Jeffrey Ivey out of jail. “Jeffrey Ivey is a gentle, kind soul. He is in there because he doesn’t have money to fix up a house. He can’t work; he can’t fix the house if he is in jail.”
McCoy and five other activists were at Cleveland Housing Court for several hours Wednesday, hoping to talk to Judge Mona Scott, but were not allowed. The judge sentenced Ivey to jail last month.
“We were here last week too and couldn’t get an answer,” McCoy said. “We were told he was not on the docket Wednesday and he won’t be on the docket until May. We will be back.”
The judge has also declined numerous requests from the I-Team to discuss the matter.
Attorney Marcus Sidoti of Friedman, Gilbert + Gerhardstein filed a motion Friday asking the judge to mitigate the sentence.
“I am not sure why he is still in jail,” Sidoti said.
He added the judge has the ability to rule on the motion with or without a hearing.
The judge has not yet issued a ruling on the motion, and it is not known when or if she will.
“The collateral consequences of his continued incarceration are deep and fundamentally unfair,” the motion states. “Mr. Ivey is not any better suited to make the home inhabitable or safe and in fact, his continued incarceration has the opposite effect.”
The Cleveland city law director’s office told us it is not opposed to Ivey getting released from jail.
In the meantime, we investigated how many people get sent to jail by the housing court. Cleveland Municipal Court records show last year three people went to jail for 10 to 15 days. Ivey also did 10 days on the case that now has him serving 3 months. But we found no slum landlords or corporate property owners thrown in jail for violations.
“Please have mercy,” McCoy said. “Please have grace.”
Ivey’s close friends, Gina Washington and Vanessa Jones, said they don’t understand why Ivey remains jailed, while many violent offenders are allowed to remain free.
“This will cost him his job and ability to care for his family’s home,” Washington said.
She noted that Ivey works at a local store, and is also a freelance photographer who has “documented the Black community in Cleveland for over 20 years.“
Washington said Ivey has been working to make the repairs for over two years. She said financial constraints have made it difficult for him to make the needed improvements.
“We need Jeff home,” Washington said. “We need him safe. We need him released. We need to see him supported and resourced, rather than punished for not having the money to bring his family home up to code.”
His friends have started a GoFundMe to help him raise money to make the repairs.