jails

A sign for the Franklin County Domestic Relations and Juvenile Court in Columbus.
Adora Namigadde / WOSU

The Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center is the latest correctional facility to be impacted by the coronavirus.

Franklin County Jail inmate at a video-arraignment
Franklin County Sheriff's Office

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has dramatically reduced its jail population after four inmates and 25 staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Several hundred immigrants have been released from U.S. detention centers amid concerns that the coronavirus is spreading rapidly through some facilities.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it has released nearly 700 detainees after evaluating their "immigration history, criminal record, potential threat to public safety, flight risk, and national security concerns."

As COVID-19 begins to hit jails and lockups around the country, the Trump administration is coming under growing pressure to release elderly and other particularly vulnerable inmates in the federal prison system to mitigate the risk of the virus' spread.

Already, three inmates and three staff at federal correctional facilities across the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In detention centers at the state and local level, including in New York City's jail system, confirmed cases of COVID-19 are on the rise.

The ACLU of Ohio is collecting complaints from inmates in Ohio through a new hotline and the organization is already pressing the state to play more of a role overseeing county and municipal jails through the coronavirus outbreak.

It's recreation time at a Los Angeles County jail known as the Twin Towers. Nearly a dozen disheveled young men stand docilely as they munch on sandwiches out of brown paper bags.

They're half-naked except for sleeveless, thick, blanket-like restraints wrapped around them like medieval garments.

All are chained and handcuffed to shiny metal tables bolted to the floor.

"It's lunchtime and they're actually [in] programming right now," says a veteran guard, LA County Sheriff's Deputy Myron Trimble.

Cuyahoga County is facing yet another lawsuit because of the county jail with an inmate alleging he was the victim of retaliation for speaking with U.S. Marshals, including threats against his life.

Ashlie Case Sletvold of the Chandra Law Firm is representing Corrionne Lawrence in a lawsuit alleging several instances of abuse last fall.

Cuyahoga County Sheriff Clifford Pinkney told county council members he had little say in major decisions at the county jail as the inmate population rose, deaths mounted and investigators launched probes into conditions there.

Weeks from retirement, Cuyahoga County Sheriff Clifford Pinkney arrived at a council hearing with his personal attorney and refused to answer almost any questions about the county jail system.

Cuyahoga County Jail in Cleveland.
Nick Castele / Ideastream

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.

This week, a federal appeals court addressed the right to treatment for an inmate who suffers from opioid addiction, a move that legal advocates say could have wide repercussions.

Faced with a flood of addicted inmates and challenged by lawsuits, America's county jails are struggling to adjust to an opioid health crisis that has turned many of the jails into their area's largest drug treatment centers.

In an effort to get a handle on the problem, more jails are adding some form of medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, to help inmates safely detox from opioids and stay clean behind bars and after release.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction found the Cuyahoga County jail in compliance with 51 state standards and in violation of 84 of them.

The state’s report comes nearly three months after the U.S. Marshal’s Service released its report, dated November 21, calling conditions at the jail “inhumane.”

The marshals conducted their review from October 30 to November 1, 2018. The state inspected the jail days later on November 6.

HDR Inc.

Franklin County’s jails are overcrowded and old. The downtown jail is 46 years old, and the jail on Jackson Pike is 31 years old. Neither functions properly for today's needs, jail officials say.

A new facility would replace both jails, and change how the county approaches inmate-guard interactions.

Jail cell
Flickr / Creative Commons

The state has announced $3 million in grants to address the mental health needs of Ohio offenders in county jails in hopes of reducing jail populations and the rate of inmates returning to the facilities.