CLEVELAND (WJW) — The administrative judge for Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court just spoke out to the FOX 8 I-Team reacting to a call for the court to do more to control the number of inmates in the county jail.
In other words, a call to lock up fewer people.
Judge Brendan Sheehan said the court wants to be very careful to not let dangerous people back on your streets.
This week, County Executive Armond Budish fired off a letter to court leaders saying the county had wasted millions of dollars and a lot of time working on plans for a new jail.
“While the decision-making is delayed, use the time to reduce the jail population and therefore the cost of a new jail,” Budish wrote. “ … You hold the key to reducing the jail population.”
Judge Sheehan pointed out most of the suspects there are waiting for trial on the most serious charges.
“Who’s in our county jail?” he asked. “With murderers, we have 207 murder cases pending in our county jail.
“Who do you let out? I mean, we always, every one of our judges are constantly looking at the numbers and trying to make sure the public safety is not violated.”
Sheehan added a significant percentage of inmates are also facing charges for sex crimes, felony assaults and domestic violence.
Plus, he said, the Cuyahoga County Jail population has been hovering well below the maximum for years.
The county executive also raised another complaint, saying too many inmates sit in jail too long waiting for trial.
But judges argue the court system was almost completely shut down during the COVID-19 outbreak.
On Tuesday, county Prosecutor Michael O’ Malley also released a statement.
It said, in part: “Attempting to assign blame and acting without cooperation, is not effective and does not help aid with building a new jail that is best for the citizens of Cuyahoga County.”
It continues: “I look forward to sitting down with the new county executive and assisting him with finding a parcel that is in the best interest of the individuals detained in the jail, the jail employees, and the citizens of Cuyahoga County.”