COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — Ohio’s jail system is undergoing major reform, 12 years after the death of R&B singer and Cleveland native Sean LeVert.
State Senator Nickie J. Antonio announced the new legislation in Columbus Tuesday.
Sean’s Law will require Ohio’s jail system to have protocols in place when admitting inmates who are at risk of withdrawal from drugs, alcohol, and/or other prescription benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Ativan and Valium.
LeVert died in Cuyahoga County Jail in 2008 from what his family says were complications caused by being denied his prescribed medication, Xanax.
LeVert’s wife and two sons attended a news conference at the state Capitol announcing the new legislation.
“Not only will this new legislation help my family, but other families dealing with the same thing,” said Sean LeVert, Jr. “The hope is that this never happens again.”
State Senator Antonio said there will also be penalties in place for Ohio jails who are non-compliant: violators could face suspension and fines.
Antonio said a whistle-blower system will also be established for jail employees to report any wrong-doing without facing consequences.
Antonio said from May through December of 2019, within Ohio’s jail system, there were 21 deaths, 16 suicides, two suicide attempts and 35 escapes of inmates struggling with some form of drug withdrawals or abuse.