Cuyahoga County claims progress is being made in correcting flaws at jail

Physical repairs and better screening of prisoners are key, officials say

Cuyahoga County claims progress is being made in correcting flaws at jail

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Officials said improvements being made at the Cuyahoga County Jail are making a difference.

A room that was formerly half of an abandoned kitchen is being transformed into a dormitory for women at the Cuyahoga County Jail.

But because there are no windows, the state says special lighting had to be installed and no one can stay more than seven days.

So, it is a rush job on the other half. As work continues, inmates will be rotated in and out.

But there is no escaping the ugly truth that repeated videos showed: Corrections officers beating and pepper spraying restrained inmates; even a man dying while staff ignored him.

“Whether it’s communication with inmates, sending people to academies because we realize many people haven’t been to academies, so we’re working to rotate them through,” said Rhonda Gibson, who was brought in last summer to get the jail up to standards.

County Chief of Staff Bill Mason calls the jail the county’s top priority and believes things are now on the right track.

“I think we put on some pretty good personnel that are in charge and are in contact with what’s happening in this jail every day. We’re all here watching it, we’re all here doing our job and I think we’re making good progress,” he told 19 News after a tour of the jail.

Other improvements cited are an increase in staff that has reduced the number of times inmates are locked in their cells for hours on end from one or two a shift to maybe a dozen in the past month.

Mason says adding staff is tough.

“Now that we have our numbers at 700, I bet we hired 150 people to get it up by 100, so it’s a continuous struggle to keep the place fully staffed but it’s as high as it’s ever been.”

In addition to the physical changes at the jail, new screenings have been instituted for every prisoner who is brought into the facility. It includes both a medical and mental health examination so that proper treatment can be prescribed for the individual.

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