Jail Reform Advocates Want To Keep Pressure On Courts, County

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Michael Nelson addresses the audience at Mt. Sinai Baptist Church at a meeting on conditions in the county jail.
Cleveland Municipal Judge Michael Nelson addresses the audience at Mt. Sinai Baptist Church at a meeting on conditions in the county jail. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
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Former Cuyahoga County Jail inmates and their advocates described their experiences with the facility at a meeting in Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood Thursday night.

The city’s NAACP chapter, civil rights attorneys and others organized the meeting at Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in response to a U.S. Marshals Service report from November, which found inhumane jail conditions that violated inmates’ constitutional rights.

Cecil Fluker was one of several people who described their experiences in the jail. He said the food trays were moldy—something the marshals’ report also found. Fluker sued this year, alleging he got sick from dirty water. He withdrew the suit in September, according to an entry in the common pleas docket.

“I hope that one person like me can make a change,” Fluker said. “So I’m just glad to be here today to tell.”

Sarah Gelsomino, a civil rights attorney with Friedman and Gilbert, told the audience that the firm was collecting stories from inmates and their families in preparation for a lawsuit.

Gelsomino referred to poor conditions in the jail as “mind games that weaken people.”

Several criminal justice advocacy groups plan to protest at the county administration building before next Tuesday’s Cuyahoga County Council meeting.

Kayla Griffin with the NAACP said people concerned with jail conditions should let county leaders know.

“We need to make sure that the court knows and the administration knows that we’re watching, and we got family and loved ones that we care about in the jails,” she said. “And they have to do something to change it, and we’re going to hold them accountable.”

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