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Street Chronicle Reaches 20 Years Old

The most recent printing of the Cleveland Street Chronicle is now available and covers an article on the abusive justice system in Cuyahoga County and how tax payers are left to foot the bill.  The paper is sold on the streets of Cleveland by vendors for $1.25.   The vendors buy the paper for $.35 and then sell them on the streets of Cleveland as an alternative to panhandling.  The paper is entering its twentieth year on the streets of Cleveland.  

Cleveland Street Chronicle Reporter Greg published a lengthy article about the state of our prison and jail system in Cuyahoga County.  The article details some of his experiences with the system and then gets a perspective from the American Civil Liberties Union.  Greg’s article features a number of stories including Lonnie who was quoted as saying, “I am being held in [the] Cuyahoga County jail system since September 23, 2007.  My trial was held on December 9, 2009 and ended in a mistrial, but I was never released.”  Many other inmates like Lonnie who cannot afford bail or personal representation are forced to spend their days in a facility that only provides basic amenities such as a bathroom, food and water.

The average cost for one year in the Cuyahoga County Jail is $25,000 and when 53% of all fourth and fifth-degree nonviolent felonies could be reduced to misdemeanors the strain on Ohio’s prisons, which are currently operating at 132% capacity, could be significantly reduced.  However, cuts to indigent defense budgets means fewer public defenders to go around and the problem of overcharging low level offenders has gotten so bad that many prisoners call them “public pretenders”.  

Cuts to the system’s budget have also meant that inmates no longer have access to the jail’s Law Library it once had.  This perpetuates the problem of overburdened public defenders and leaves litigants with no way to help themselves.  Overflow in state prisons and a slow justice system means that inmates are now being held in Cuyahoga County Jail long term rather than short term.

County jails are intended to be a holding facility for those awaiting trial, been convicted to serve a short sentence of less than one year, have not yet paid bail, or detainees who have just been picked up on suspicion of a crime.  If inmates are being held in county jail as if it were a long-term prison, then re-establishing access to the Law Library is warranted.  

To read the complete story in the latest edition of the Cleveland Street Chronicle, you may purchase the paper from vendors Downtown and at the West Side Market for $1.25.  Certified vendors have green badges, and some now have uniforms.  The vendors ask for public support for these entrepreneurs as they try to earn money to end the cycle of poverty.  

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