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Government & Politics

Cleveland Judge Encouraged by Jail Assessment, but Wants Bond Reform, More Staff

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CLEVELAND MUNICIPAL COURT
Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Michael Nelson says increasing staffing at the jail -- and reforming the bail bond system -- are two ways the Court of Common Pleas can help solve the issues at the jail.

A Cleveland judge is welcoming the announcement that U.S. Marshals will conduct an independent assessment of conditions at the county jail after six inmates died in the last three months.  WKSU's Kabir Bhatia reports.

Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Michael Nelson says he’s encouraged that conditions at the jail are being evaluated.  He announced last week he wouldn’t send any more non-violent offenders to the jail, given the recent deaths, instead ordering personal bond or court-supervised release.

“The last gentleman who died was in jail on a $1,500 bond.  That doesn’t seem like a lot.  But if you’re unemployed, that’s a lot of money.”

Nelson says he had asked the Court of Common Pleas to look into reforming its bail bond system in 2016.

“Since that time, they’ve established a committee.  They established another committee.  And now they have a subcommittee studying the results of those previous committees.  We, in our county, have to have the will to embrace bail bond reform.”

Nelson also says he won’t be comfortable sending non-violent offenders to the county jail until staffing levels are increased.