After the deaths of six inmates in Ohio's Cuyahoga County jail system over a span of several months, families and investigators are searching for answers. Three deaths were linked to drugs, while the rest were caused by suicide. The U.S. Marshals Service is investigating the situation after critics suggest the deaths are a result of an overcrowded jail system and lack of proper management, according to NBC.
Yvonne Postlethwait-Allen is one of the many who are grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday season as a result of the jail's poorly staffed system. Her brother, Randall Kain, had been in jail as a result of his heroin addiction. He had battled with drugs since his mother's passing in 2006. The last time she spoke to her brother, she had told him not to visit for Christmas, a conversation that now haunts her.
"I had my grandkids here, and I told him I didn't think it was a good idea," Postlethwait-Allen, 51, said. "That really kills me, because that's one of the last things I told him. I felt horrible after that, I really did."Several months after her conversation with her brother, he was pronounced dead by the county medical examiner's office of accidental "acute fentanyl intoxication." Shocked and disgusted by the string of unnecessary deaths in the Cuyahoga County jail system, Ohio judge Michael Nelson says he will be sending defendants to other locations.
"I then said that I'm not sending anybody else to this hellhole of a jail, unless it's a violent felony," Nelson said.
Judge Nelson is blaming poor management of the jail for the recent events and is calling for extreme reform of the system. He is not the only one to publicly voice concerns. Former nursing supervisors employed by the jail have stated that many inmates do not receive medication necessary for life-threatening conditions such as HIV and diabetes. While the jail is equipped to handle 1,765 inmates, they have long surpassed that limit and currently house 2,200 people on a daily basis. The system requires at least 650 staff members to operate safely and efficiently, but currently only employ 575 staff members.
Judge Nelson believes that many of the inmates suffering from drug addiction would be better off in a rehabilitation program, where they can receive proper assistance to turn their lives around. Randall Kain's family believes he would still be alive if he had been able to receive treatment.