CLEVELAND – The ACLU of Ohio recently uncovered troubling information about youth being transferred from the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) to the Cuyahoga County Corrections Center (Cuyahoga Jail), a facility that has been in a state of crisis for over a year. The transfer of youth is happening at an alarming rate, especially given the dangerous situation at the Cuyahoga Jail and the improvements the ACLU and other juvenile justice advocates had recently observed at the JDC.
On July 25, the ACLU of Ohio sent a letter to Judge Kristin Sweeney, the Administrative Judge of the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, requesting answers or a sit-down meeting by August 5. As of this morning, Tuesday, August 6, no meetings have been scheduled and no information has been provided.
“The information we received from our public records request is shocking and disturbing. Every week there are new reports about the horrors at the Cuyahoga Jail, and now we’ve learned that not only are juveniles being sent there at alarming rates, but that the Juvenile Court has no written policy of how, when, and why youth are transferred,” stated Jocelyn Rosnick, Advocacy Director for the ACLU of Ohio.
The judicial orders reveal that the Juvenile Division is making some transfer determinations based on inappropriate and distressing rationales. “We discovered that some youth are being sent to the Cuyahoga Jail, in part, for refusing to go to school, or being ‘disruptive’ in class. This is outrageous. We know there are other age-appropriate remedies which don’t involve criminalizing normal teenage behavior,” added Claire Chevrier, Advocacy Counsel for the ACLU of Ohio. “Sending teenagers to a dangerous facility where people are dying is the opposite of juvenile justice.”
Nine people have died at the Cuyahoga Jail since June 2018 to present day.
“The lack of urgency is extremely disappointing. We are eager to work with the Juvenile Court to help them create a transfer policy which they themselves acknowledged does not already exist,” concluded Rosnick.