A Cleveland judge is no longer sending low-level offenders to a local jail after a sixth inmate has died in four months. Judge Michael Nelson said the deaths have concerned him and he’s no longer comfortable setting bonds unless the crime is egregious.
“When people are locked up awaiting trial or whatever, their fate should not be death in the jail!” Nelson said.
While speaking with Cleveland.com, Nelson said he will now set personal bonds, which allows the accused who enter his courtroom to leave without having to post a bond. Nelson also plans to contact administrative Judge Michelle Earley to set up a meeting with Cuyahoga County Jail officials and figure out what’s leading to inmate deaths.
“The first thing I did this morning when I saw [the cleveland.com] story is look to see if it was someone I sent to jail,” Nelson said. “I’m giving personal bonds to everyone from now on unless they’re the worst of the worst until things get figured out at the jail.”
In an emailed statement to the Cleveland outlet, Earley said a meeting is being arranged.
“Both the warden of the county jail and the Chief of Public Safety for Cuyahoga County have agreed to meet with me so that the Court can get a better understanding of what is going on with the jail, what has happened in these situations and what plans the jail has/will implement to prevent further inmate deaths in the facility,” Earley’s statement said.
The Medical Examiner for the Cuyahoga County Jail said 44-year-old Allan Martin Gomez died four days after being booked. Gomez was arrested Friday (Oct. 5) on a warrant issued months ago for fifth-degree felony cocaine possession, which means he had less than five grams of the drug on his person. Gomez was taken to MetroHealth after his arraignment and Judge Kathleen Ann Sutula set Gomez’s bond at $1,500, which meant he had to post $150.
Cuyahoga County officials have not given details into what led to Gomez’ s death. According to medical examiner’s record, no more than two inmates have died a year in last the decade.