Commentary by Greg S.

It is common to see many homeless people stock-piled in our county and state jail system, and I’m no exception to this rule.  I recently had a reunion with the Cleveland Cuyahoga County jail system and upon this reunion I realized how much that has been cut out of the systems budget as far as the quality of food, medical, and the Law Library.

 The Law Library is very important to prisoners who can’t afford a good lawyer to represent them, and have to settle for an attorney that the state assigns to them.  Many prisoners call them “public pretenders” instead of public defenders because most of them are overwhelmed with cases that they are assigned to represent and they rush through a lot of their cases that they deemed as low profile cases.  Without giving the proper attention that they deserve in order to ensure that each citizen of their county receives a fair trial as stated in the UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.  Some of these lawyers lie to their clients stating that they need more time to prepare their case when the true reason most times is that they are overloaded with other cases; so they try to convince their clients to sign a waiver to waive their right to a speedy trial, which in a lot of cases helps the prosecution to build or fabricate a case against their prisoners.  Then there are people being held prisoner because they refuse to accept a plea bargain. What the state does is over indict prisoners coming through their doors to insure a conviction.

 While I was there I met a couple of men who dare to defy the system and refuse to be forced by the state to take a plea bargain.  Their names are Lonnie and Shawn.  Lonnie had been held prisoner in the County Jail for six years and has not been convicted of any crime and has not been moved to a better facility. 

This is both Lonnie Donaldson and Shawn Skinner written statement:

My name is Lonnie Donaldson and I am being held in 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.

My name is Shawn Skinner and I have been held prisoner in the Cuyahoga County jail for 14 months on hearsay evidence. My right to a 90-day speedy trial has been violated, and my job of 10 years has been destroyed. 

Can we really turn a blind eye to our Constitutional rights being destroyed before our own eyes?  Some of our children and loved ones might one day be entangled in this very same system. What’s it going to be like maybe 10 or 20 years from now?  It’s something to seriously think about and take a look into.    

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle Cleveland, Ohio January 2013