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Statement on the Death of Elving Lopez
at the Cuyahoga County Jail

September 19, 2023

We at the Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition are sad to announce the death of a beloved father and partner Elving Lopez, who died due to alleged medical neglect while in the custody of the Cuyahoga County Jail on September 12, 2023. At this time, the county has only released Lopez’s name and has thus far refused to comment on the circumstances of his death, but members of the Jail Coalition have spoken with the family to confirm what details are available.


According to his partner, Elving Lopez was allegedly left unattended in a jail medical pod for more than 12 hours, and the doctor attending to him said that he had been brain dead for hours before anyone found him. We know that Elving had a history of heart issues and was also receiving methadone treatment. It is possible that if he wasn't given his medication by Cuyahoga County jail staff, then he could have gone into withdrawal, which could have triggered a heart attack. We will likely not know for several months what the medical examiner finds. We will remain vigilant in the demand for answers and justice.


If these allegations are true, this is a prime example of the medical neglect rampant in U.S. jails and evidence that the failures of care in our Cuyahoga County jail are at the level of misconduct, not material issues.


Lopez leaves behind a two year old child and a loving partner. We as a community grieve with this family, and for this family. In the words of his partner, Elving loved nothing more in this world than his young daughter and took wonderful care of her in the short time they were together.


Lopez’s death is the third death within the jail in the last three months, including Nathan Myers in July and a yet unnamed community member on the weekend of August 19-20. Last year, five community members died while incarcerated at our jail. These deaths make it 26 total people who have died at the Cuyahoga County Jail since 2018. Every one of those people was part of our community, a loved one.

Yet again we see that Cuyahoga County jail management have allowed staff to neglect their duties to protect those that are in their care and custody inside the jail. Lopez’s death and all the others are the results of their failure and unwillingness to provide adequate care for those incarcerated and also their failure to make meaningful criminal justice reforms, bail reform, and a permanent lowering of the jail population. The county’s serious neglect of health and safety conditions seriously hurts the well-being of every person housed and working inside the county jail. Enough is enough.

We know that incarcerated people are the only people in the United States with a constitutional right to health care, and that that right is constantly being violated by conditions in our jail. In the landmark 1976 Supreme Court decision in Estelle v. Gamble, it was established that inadequate medical care to incarcerated people as a result of deliberate indifference is a form of “cruel and unusual punishment” outlawed by the Eighth Amendment. Read the circumstances of Mr. Lopez’s death and ask yourself: was this cruel and unusual? The answer is a resounding yes.

This persistent neglect is intolerable and irresponsible. Cuyahoga County officials want us to believe in a magical solution to their neglect: spend a billion dollars to build a new jail and to expand incarceration, but change nothing about the culture or conditions of the system itself. That will not work, and we cannot let the county trick us into passing the blame and the buck down the road. The real solution begins with changing the negligent environment among jail staff, which produces medical neglect as well as overdoses, suicides, and assaults on both those incarcerated and corrections officers. That is only a start.

We in the community of care within Cuyahoga County should be outraged, and demand more change. We must continue to fight for lives and against atrocities associated with the County Jail. We must advocate for the rights of all who suffer due to the circumstances surrounding the County Jail. We can not continue to separate the jail from the criminal justice system and policing as they are all connected together. We will drastically reduce the jail population when we transform the criminal justice system. We must hold local officials accountable for their policy choices that continue to induce harm. We must focus on building a more just future within our community that centers care over cages.

We must mourn the loss of Elving Lopez, and we continue the fight to stop the inhumanity at the Cuyahoga County Jail. Elving Lopez, presente!

 Cuyahoga County 

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