Ohio jail removing bed sheets from cells for mentally ill, isolated inmates to curb suicides
The move comes after eight inmates died in the jail in 2018, and another in 2019
By Adam Ferrise
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County Jail administrators ordered bed sheets to be removed from cells that house inmates considered to be at high risk for self-harm in an effort to curb suicide attempts in the facility.
Inmates who are mentally ill, being held in isolation or being held in a cluster of cells designated for military veterans will be given an additional blanket in lieu of bed sheets, according to the order.
Jail Administrator Rhonda Gibson ordered the change Friday, saying it is necessary to “increase safety for inmates who are of high risk of self harm," according to the order.
The move comes after eight inmates died in the jail in 2018, and another in 2019. Five of those inmates committed suicide, including Nicholas Colbert, who hanged himself in the military veteran’s pod in May.
Jail officials have struggled to curb suicide attempts, which tripled over a three-year period that included 69 suicide attempts in 2018. Cuyahoga County has refused to provide updated information on suicide attempts in 2019.
Officials at MetroHealth, which provides medical care to inmates, pleaded with Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and other county officials to make several changes after the first seven inmates deaths in 2018, which included three suicides.
The changes included an assurance that all inmates receive a medical screening within four hours of being booked into the jail, and a requirement that any inmate who reported a recent suicide attempt be sent to a hospital.
Former Cuyahoga County Sheriff Cliff Pinkney implemented the changes only after inmate Brenden Kiekisz hanged himself in his cell Dec. 27.
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