Governor Mike DeWine
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has proposed a series of substantive changes at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) in response to the assorted catastrophes at the Cuyahoga County Jail, including nine inmate deaths since last June.
While these changes are designed to improve the inspection and reporting processes at ODRC's Bureau of Adult Detention, which is responsible for the annual inspection of all 300 jail facilities in the state, DeWine didn't disguise the fact that these improvements were urgently needed because of the situation in Cuyahoga County. He was spurred to review state policies after a scathing U.S. Marshals Report documented inhumane conditions at the county jail last year.
The changes include a significant boost to ODRC's inspection staff (an increase from six to 15 employees), new requirements for reporting incidents at jail facilities and disseminating inspection reports, and permitting unplanned inspections. Until now, all annual inspections were coordinated in advance.
With additional staff, the inspections will be more thorough as well. Currently, jail inspectors only examine "essential standards" on an annual basis and review the others on a biennial rotating inspection schedule. Now, all standard will be inspected every year.
DeWine said extra attention would be paid to the Cuyahoga County Jail. Inspectors will be checking the facility not every year but "at least every 30 days."
''If they need to inspect it more often, they will,'' DeWine told cleveland.com
. ''If they need to live there, they'll live there.''
And if the jail fails to make "significant improvements," DeWine said, legal action may be taken. As of its most recent inspection Monday, the county jail is non-compliant in 66 out of 135 state standards. That's an improvement from last year, when affter the U.S. Marshals report the facility was discovered to be non-compliant in 84 standards. But there's still a long way to go.
Lakewood State Sen. Nickie Antonio and Parma State Rep. Jeff Crossman issued a joint statement applauding DeWine on the changes.
“We are pleased Governor DeWine has heard our pleas for improved state oversight, transparency and accountability at the Cuyahoga County Jail,” said Antonio. “We look forward to reviewing the changes, and remain committed to dedicating the resources necessary to provide humane conditions in our corrections institutions.”
Said Crossman: “Every person detained must be treated fairly and humanely and employees should have the necessary resources to perform their duties to the best of their abilities."