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CLEVELAND, OHIO, March 19th, 2021– Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition is helping county residents push back on the inadequate survey process for jail site selection in a letter campaign rapidly gaining new senders and spreading through social media, even though it was launched just yesterday. The Jail Coalition launched this “Care, Not Cages” letter campaign to amplify the county community’s desire for the Justice Center Steering Committee to open their process to decide crucial elements of the new jail campaign to include true voices of affected community, experts in alternatives to incarceration, and other community stakeholders who have been shut out of the current, closed door process.


The goal of this letter campaign is to send a strong message that the Steering Committee needs to rethink its approach to the public, offer more substantive engagement, and immediately create permanent, powerful positions for affected communities within their decision making process.


Last Monday, the County Department of Public Works launched a website seeking public comment on the construction of the new County Jail. The survey instrument, which was not adequately promoted to the public, was a short set of opaque questions such as “Please rate on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is Least Important to you and 5 is the Most Important to you: 'Creating and locating a facility that promotes access to justice.'" Members of the Coalition expressed dismay at the vagueness of such questions, their lack of methodical rigeur, and their evidence of lack of concern for those most truly affected by the carceral system of Cuyahoga County.


The Coalition released an alternative instrument by which community members can give written feedback to the Steering Committee, and also has outlined many reasons why the survey is evidence of the need for deeper and more substantive engagement by affected communities in every step of the new jail development project.


The Coalition’s primary concern is that the jail project is moving forward without concern for those most affected by incarceration and those most likely to impacted by the construction of a carceral facility in their neighborhoods: both groups disproportionately poor BIPOC residents and largely without the political power to demand equity and fairness in decisions made about their safety and wellbeing. “We must ensure that the most directly impacted people are at the forefront of decision making power,” said Chrissy Stonebreaker-Martinez, member of the Jail Coalition Steering Committee.


The Coalition is also concerned that the speedy, opaque process of the Steering Committee is happening without robust public discussion and comment. “The pursuit of justice does not happen behind closed doors, it happens though the action and voice of the public,” said Kevin Ballou


The Jail Coalition asks community members to write a letter to Steve Zannoni of Project Management Consultants ( and send it by the Committee’s Monday March 22, 11:59pm deadline, and also to join the coalition as it moves forward on its campaign to demand true community engagement as well as transparency, accountability, and true concern for alternatives to incarceration into every step of this major county project.


What: Letter writing action

When : Open until Monday March 22,2021 11:59pm

Where: Online - Action Network - Press kit shared below

For more information: or



Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition:

We, the Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition, envision Cuyahoga county divesting from incarceration and transferring resources towards community care and rehabilitation. We envision community accountability to address the root causes of harm with alternatives to incarceration.

 Cuyahoga County 

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