#AdvocacyMatters: Giving Voice To The Silenced
January 15, 2021 / #AdvocacyMatters
As an organization made up of attorneys and advocates, we have a deeply rooted belief in fighting for the legal and human rights of Ohioans with disabilities. As imperfect as our systems of justice may be, we believe that the principles behind them – liberty and justice for all – are inherently good. Much of our work meets these systems head-on, fighting for fairness and equality throughout society.
Earlier this week we published the findings of our 20-month-long investigation into the Cuyahoga County Corrections Center. Housing more than 26,000 inmates annually the facility is the second largest jail in our state. Stemming from complaints we received about inadequate mental healthcare at the jail, our investigation grew to uncover serious concerns not just with inmates’ access to mental healthcare but also physical healthcare, along with discovering portions of the facility weren’t accessible to people with disabilities. We were also troubled by the number of inmates being held there amid the COVID-19 pandemic. When viewed collectively, these issues present clear evidence of systemic failures within the facility.
The Cuyahoga County facility has a long history of systemic issues, including a period of mandatory monthly inspections ordered by Governor DeWine in 2018, 2019, and 2020. While increased scrutiny in the past few years may have forced some small improvements, we fear that many of these complaints had for too long been overlooked and ignored. While many in our state might not have a sympathetic outlook towards inmates in a county jail, these flagrant violations of human decency are in direct opposition to the principles our society stands for. As compared to a prison facility, a county jail like this typically hold people between arrest and trial… meaning many being placed in these conditions haven’t yet been convicted of any crime.
Giving a voice to the unheard is the core of our work. We will continue to shine a light into the darkness in our fight for equality for all Ohioans. Maintaining a minimum level of human decency throughout our justice system isn’t just important… it’s mandatory. Our voices won’t be silenced and our lights won’t be extinguished, because our principles don’t waiver and because #AdvocacyMatters.