COLUMBUS (WCMH) — After eight inmates died at the Cuyahoga County Jail last year, and with other incidents coming to light, Gov. Mike DeWine announced a jail inspection overhaul last month.
On Friday, DeWine revealed some of those first changes.
DeWine met with the Ohio Jail Advisory Board and said the group that will be inspecting the county jails is increasing from five to 15 people, with other steps on the horizon.
The beating of an inmate strapped to a chair by Cuyahoga County officials, and the overdose death of an inmate who was left for two hours after an officer barely made an attempt to see if the inmate needed assistance, are just two examples of concerning conduct at the Cuyahoga County Jail.
“The problems coming out of the Cuyahoga County Jail, I think, fairly early on in our administration got… got my attention,” DeWine said.
DeWine’s administration has increased the number of people inspecting jails to nearly three times the previous amount. The group now also includes a nurse to assess medical complaints.
Still, DeWine said running a jail is no easy task.
“It’s tough because of mental health problems, it’s tough because of budget problems, it is tough because so many people are in the jail detoxing today,” he said.
In the meantime, DeWine wants all critical incidents to be reported.
“I think his goal and our goal is to make sure that prisoners are treated with dignity and respect, but also that law enforcement officers are safe and you know doing that work every day,” said Rep. Brigid Kelly from Cincinnati.
In the end, DeWine said the population of the jails is very different today than it was 40 years ago. There are more women and individuals suffering from mental illness then there has ever been before.
Moving forward, DeWine said he plans to work with Sheriffs in the months and years ahead to address what he calls the bigger picture issue of dealing with people with mental illness who break the law.