Greater Cleveland Congregations has been active in reforming the criminal justice system in Cuyahoga County since 2012, with a particular focus on creating change and accountability through the office of the County Prosecutor.
Our successes have included:
- A 25% reduction in overcharging of individuals who have found themselves in the criminal justice system
- The establishment of a Civil Rights Unit in the County Prosecutor's office (the third in the country)
- Referral of all lethal use-of-force cases by law enforcement to the state Attorney General's office.
- Establishment of the Crisis Diversion Center, a pre-booking mental health and addiction restorative center.
- We worked with the presiding judge of Cuyahoga County to establish a Violence Interruption Diversion Docket for 18-21 year olds with no prior convictions who are caught with a firearm –the first in the country.
We are currently organizing around Cuyahoga County's overuse of Discretionary Youth Bindover, the process of transferring children under age 18 to adult court and, if convicted, sentencing them to adult prison.
Our extensive conversations and research have aided us in seeing the negative effects of Discretionary Youth Bindover for our children and our community. We concluded that bindover does not reduce crime; in fact, it decreases community safety. Bindover of youth has serious negative consequences such as increased repeat crimes when individuals are released from prison and an increased chance of suicide. Bindover also deprives our youth access to a wide range of rehabilitative services offered by the juvenile court.
We value the tension of this moment: keeping our communities safe while having alternatives for youth who commit violent crimes.
We are also engaged in addressing unjust jail before trial with the Pretrial Justice Team.
Since its last meeting in June 2022, the Pretrial Justice Team has learned much through research actions, interviews, reports and other sources. GCC is committed to preventing unjust jail before trial and addressing the County's concerns about a new or renovated jail and how many should be in jail.
The County needs system change. It has a new County Executive, some new County Council members, and some newly elected judges. We have opportunities now for that change.
Articles Related to GCC's Criminal Justice Work
Background information regarding Discretionary Youth Bindover and the speakers and panelists at the Dec. 6 Action, Justice for Our Children: A Public Hearing to End Abuse of Discretionary Youth Bindover.
December 1, 2022
GCC's dogged persistance has paid off as Cuyahoga County announces a contract with the ADAHMS Board for Oriana House to operate and house a crisis diversion center.
November 23, 2020