Cleveland: A message to the community – “No new jail!”


The Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition was warmly received by participants and onlookers at Cleveland’s Labor Day parade Sept. 4, as it promoted its efforts to stop construction of a new county jail. With principal and interest to bondholders combined, a new jail could cost county taxpayers over $2 billion, making it the most expensive project in Cuyahoga County’s history. The Coalition banner, shown in the photo, called on county residents to “say no to 40 years of debt.”

Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition before marching in the Cleveland Labor Day parade, Sept. 4, 2023. (Photo: Don Bryant)

Every year in Cleveland, the 11th Congressional District Caucus holds its parade on Labor Day. For over a decade this Black community tradition has been joined by Greater Cleveland’s labor movement, which had at one time held a separate parade the same day.

Brochures supporting the “No New Jail!” campaign explained that $2 billion would be better spent on jobs, education, mass transit and other community benefits. The Coalition calls for  “Care Not Cages” — offering individuals in crisis the care they need and creating alternatives to incarceration. Money bail has been criticized for the way it keeps low-income people, especially people of color, in jail because they can’t afford bail.

Public pressure led the Cuyahoga County Council to scrap plans to build a new jail on a toxic site in Cleveland, but the latest plan is to go ahead with building a new jail in a “cleaner, greener” location in the suburb of Garfield Heights. Bringing the struggle against any new jail to the Labor Day Parade was an important contribution.


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