DRO Announces Results of Probe into Cuyahoga County Corrections Center

January 12, 2021 / jails and prisons

Disability Rights Ohio is committed to ensuring that meaningful medical and mental health treatment in physically accessible facilities is available for all Ohio individuals who are incarcerated, especially for those with disabilities. However, based on reports that Cuyahoga County Corrections Center (CCCC) is failing to provide adequate healthcare for inmates, DRO launched a 20-month investigation into practices at CCCC.

DRO’s recently published policy paper, “Pervasive Healthcare and ADA Compliance Issues at Cuyahoga County Corrections Center,” outlines its findings established through site visits, meetings with administrators, and more than 160 inmate interviews. The report concludes that systemic issues at the facility threaten the health, safety, and legal rights of inmates.

“CCCC is the second-largest full-service jail in Ohio and manages more than 26,000 inmates annually,” said Kerstin Sjoberg, DRO executive director. “CCCC came under our scrutiny after we learned that the facility was not providing meaningful medical and mental health treatment. Our research indicates that, in general, at least 40 percent of jail inmates have one disability. Further, 60 percent report having symptoms of psychiatric disabilities. At CCCC, we recognized that the facility housed a significant population with heightened needs for chronic care and psychological treatment, but those needs were not being met.”

DRO’s investigation uncovered several key issues prevalent at CCCC:
• Lack of access to adequate medical care.
• Lack of access to meaningful mental health care.
• Staff shortages and a culture of misconduct and abuse.
• An inaccessible facility.

DRO also concluded that CCCC has not met several obligations under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), one of several federal laws protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities. Many of the issues described in the report, including those related to medical and mental health care and the physical facility, may be the result of CCCC’s failure to meet Title II requirements.

DRO has additional concerns about the facility’s recent and significant rise in population due to record-high COVID-19 numbers. The increase is creating further strain on CCCC’s healthcare program, exacerbating already alarming conditions. In the past, CCCC consistently operated above its state-rated population of 1,765. At the beginning of the pandemic, the population was a low 950 inmates, but has now risen to nearly 1,500. Bureau Recommended Compacity (BRC)” for the Cuyahoga County Corrections Center is 1880. CCCC also reported that as of December 22, 2020, the census was 1353. * Inmates are sharing cells, and many have been subject to exposure isolation, indicating the jail’s inability to effectively manage the spread of COVID-19 within its walls.

CCCC acknowledges that there is more work to be done to improve its operations and ensure appropriate access and healthcare services. DRO recommends that CCCC:

1. Reduce the jail population and evaluate and improve conditions at the facility while slowing the spread of COVID-19.
2. Implement an accessible and traceable grievance system that allows inmates to easily report concerns and receive quick and meaningful responses.
3. Conduct its own periodic interviews of a sample of inmates to identify concerns, trends, and patterns, as well as provide meaningful communication to inmates about their healthcare.
4. Develop policies and practices to comply with the ADA and hire a dedicated Title II ADA Coordinator.
5. Fix architectural accessibility issues, especially in the medical unit.

“CCCC must fully address the systemic failures within the facility,” concluded Sjoberg. “Ohio’s inmates have fundamental rights, including the right to be housed in a safe and healthy environment, the right to be treated humanely, the right to adequate medical and mental health care, and the right to be free from abuse and neglect. Currently at CCCC, these rights are routinely violated.”

To access the detailed results of DRO’s report, ““Pervasive Healthcare and ADA Compliance Issues at Cuyahoga County Corrections Center,” go to http://www.disabilityrightsohio.org/assets/documents/cccc_public_report_fv7.pdf .

A summary of the report can be found at www.disabilityrightsohio.org/assets/documents/cccc_report_summary_fv1.pdf

The CCCC’s redacted response to our report can be accessed at

*This figure is subject to fluctuation on a daily basis.

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