Cleveland: Another death in the county jail

The Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition issued the following statement after the July 20 death of Nathan Myers in the Cuyahoga County Jail.

Protest outside Cuyahoga County Jail, Apri 4, 2022. Banner refers to $500 million, the initial projected cost of a new county jail.

This week we heard of the death of another person within Cuyahoga County Jail. His name was Nathan Myers; he was 26. No one should die of preventable deaths within our county’s care, and that includes a jail — our hearts mourn this loss. Myers’ was the first death this year, but it is unlikely to be the last. Last year, five community members died while incarcerated at our jail; this is an outrage.

While we are saddened yet again by the death of another person inside the Cuyahoga County Jail, we are not surprised. Our Cuyahoga County elected officials have neglected their duty and responsibility to protect those that are in their care and custody inside the jail. This death and all the others are the results of their failure and unwillingness to fully focus on meaningful criminal justice reforms, bail reform, and a permanent lowering of the jail population. 

This dereliction of duty directly impacts the safety and well-being of every person housed inside the county jail. Enough is enough.

This persistent neglect is intolerable and irresponsible. Cuyahoga County officials assert the only solution is and has been to build a new jail and expand incarceration, despite the community’s call for alternatives. Despite preventative attempts, officials at the jail still allow a negligent environment that produces overdoses, suicides and assaults on both those incarcerated and corrections officers. 

The taxpayers of Cuyahoga County will not stand for this injustice. We will not be silent. No one should die in state custody, yet these deaths make at least 17 total people who have died at the Cuyahoga County Jail since 2018. 

What is happening in this county is happening nationwide, as deaths of incarcerated people increase in sync with the rise of the total incarcerated population. These numbers alone highlight an infuriating flaw in our society. The historical and current response to public health crises has been incarceration. As poverty has been criminalized, jails and prisons have become places to warehouse and dispose of community members. 

We continue to fight for lives and against atrocities associated with the county jail. We advocate for the rights of all who suffer due to the circumstances surrounding the county jail. We cannot continue to separate the jail from the criminal justice system and policing as they are all connected together. 

We will drastically reduce the jail population when we transform the criminal justice system. We hold local officials accountable for their policy choices that continue to induce harm. We must focus on building a more just future within our community that centers care over cages.

Today we mourn the loss of Nathan Myers, and we continue the fight to stop the inhumanity at the Cuyahoga County Jail.

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