Ohio administrator says jail problems are fixable with more time, staff

The administrator's priorities are to help improve conditions by recruiting and hiring more staff as well as increasing training for all staff members


Courtney Astolfi

Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County’s new jail administrator told County Council members on Tuesday that she believes many of the jails’ problems are correctable, but correcting them will take time and more staff.

Administrator Ronda Gibson, during a brief introduction at a Public Safety & Justice Affairs Committee meeting said her two priorities to help improve conditions there are recruiting and hiring staff, and increasing training for all staff members.

More staff, Gibson said, “can resolve a lot of the issues” at the jails.

Gibson, the former Lorain County Jail administrator, started with the county on June 3. She succeeds Ken Mills, who left the job in November a week before the release of a U.S. Marshals Service report that detailed inhumane conditions in the jail. He was indicted in January in an ongoing public corruption investigation and has pleaded not guilty.

County Council in January pledged $3.5 million to raise the number of authorized corrections officers from 615 to 675, a staff level that would eliminate the practice of locking inmates in cells for extended periods due to staff shortages.

The jails currently have 605 corrections officers, according to Public Safety Chief Brandy Carney, down from 618 officers three months ago.

Gibson also weighed in on the chronic crowding of the downtown jail. The facility currently hold 2,040 inmates, exceeding the designed capacity by about 300.

In response to a question from Councilman Dale Miller about permanently reducing the average jail population, Gibson said she can work with judges, law enforcement agencies and others in the criminal justice system toward that goal.

Among other possibilities, Gibson floated the idea of conducting a pilot project in which some suspects are not brought to the jail, or those with mental health issues are committed to a treatment facility rather than the jail.

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©2019 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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