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Ohio Judge Raises Concerns After String Of Deaths At Cleveland Jails

Michael Coghlan

Six inmates have died in more than three months at Cleveland county jails, prompting a judge to stop sending people charged with non-violent crimes there.

Cleveland Municipal Judge Michael Nelson said Tuesday the first thing he did after learning of the latest inmate death at Cuyahoga County Jail was look to see if it was someone he sent to jail. He said he's trying to meet jail officials to figure out why so many inmates have died.

Nelson told Cleveland.com he's not comfortable setting bonds for people charged with crimes "unless they're the worst of the worst." Instead, he said he'll set personal bonds instead, allowing defendants to leave without posting the money.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner identified 44-year-old Allan Martin Gomez as the latest inmate to die. He was arrested Friday on a warrant and charged with felony cocaine possession. His bond was set at $1,500, and he needed to post $150 to be released. A county spokeswoman declined to release details to Cleveland.com about Gomez's death, including when he was taken to the hospital after his arraignment hearing.

County spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan didn't immediately reply to a call Thursday from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Gomez was the sixth inmate who died in Cleveland county jails since June 22. Two inmates hanged themselves, and two inmates had drugs in their systems at the time of their deaths, according to the medical examiner. The cause of death for Gomez and another man has not yet been determined.

It has been at least a decade since more than two inmates have died in a one-year period at Cuyahoga County Jail, according to Cleveland.com.