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Ohio Ramping Up Jail Inspections Following Rash Of Inmate Deaths

Cuyahoga County Jail in Cleveland.
Nick Castele
Cuyahoga County Jail in Cleveland.

Gov. Mike DeWine says the state is keeping a close eye on the Cuyahoga County Jail system and the problems it’s had with inmate deaths and use of force. But he adds that fixing those problems might require looking at the bigger picture.

The Cuyahoga County Jail has come under a harsh spotlight after a string of inmate deaths, including eight in 2018 and one so far this year. The U.S. Marshals Service called conditions at the facility “inhumane,” after which prosecutorsfiled chargesagainst the jail’s former director, warden and several corrections officers.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is ramping up its jail inspection team by adding more inspectors, including a registered nurse.

DeWine says it’s important to focus on fixing immediate issues with jails such as with Cuyahoga County. But he also says that the makeup of county inmates is changing.

“Our criminal justice system is not really designed to deal with people who have mental health problems, really isn’t designed to help people with substance abuse problems,” DeWine says. “So we are grappling with this. We’ve made some changes, but we have a long way to go.”

He also says the state needs to find ways to improve jails for therising female population.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.