One Lakewood Progress: Judge Carroll’s Call For New Jail Policies Grounded In Defensible Rationale

Late last year, long-time Lakewood Judge Patrick Carroll publicly called for an independent review of the policies at Lakewood City Jail after three instances of drug sharing among inmates, as well as a separate incident where an inmate was prematurely released from captivity. Judge Carroll stated his office was alerted to these incidents after the fact and was not properly informed.

In interviews last year, Judge Carroll offered some policy solutions for consideration, like establishing a citizen oversight committee to oversee how the jail is run, as well as new internal policies that expand avenues of transparency in reporting issues at the jail by looping in elected officials and city administrators. 

The administrative issues that have beleaguered the Cuyahoga County Jail in recent years remind us that from a policy administration standpoint, there is always room for improvement, and that regular review of administrative polices that ensure the safety and security of the community ought to be a priority on an ongoing basis.

Given the issues of administrative liability, accreditation standards, case law, and the need to support professional behavior, comprehensive written policy and procedures are a necessity for all jails. 

Correctional policy changes, as those suggested by Judge Carroll, are grounded in defensible rationale and should not be seen as a rebuke of jail officials, but as part of a constructive re-assessment of policies and procedures that solve current problems and prevent future ones.

The public administration of jails has progressed in the United States from ad-hoc management of independent Sheriffs where anything goes, to the legal necessity of jails serving as institutions of professional and accountable conduct, where policies are linked to legitimate correctional outcomes, prevailing standards, and community safety goals. 

Citizen oversight into police departments and jails is not a new phenomenon. Cleveland’s Office of Professional Standards and Police Review Board was established to help put a process in place to investigate citizen complaints and make policy recommendations to elected officials and the police department. Citizen involvement is a crucial aspect to all public processes and providing the community a say in how they are policed can lead to very positive outcomes to the community’s relationship with, and faith in, their local police department. 

The changes called for by Judge Carroll would establish an independent, Review-Focused oversight board that would review police department operations and provide community input about internal investigations and procedures. This would provide an extra level of oversight for internal functions of the police department and promote a greater understanding of the complexities of operating a jail and how the community is policed.

Quality improvement is important not just for business, schools, or hospitals. Learning how to increase efficiency, strengthen partnerships and relationships, and serve the public better should be a central tenet for all public agencies and entities. A citizen’s review board makes sense in the spirit of continuous quality improvement and in strengthening the bond between our community and our police department. 

In interviews late last year, Lakewood Police Chief Timothy Malley stated to that the concerns expressed by Judge Carroll had already been addressed through internal policy updates and that in his opinion, an outside review of the jail was not needed.

As of this writing, there is no word regarding whether the new mayoral administration will request an outside review in response to the incidents. 

What do you think? Should city council or the new administration establish an independent, citizen-led oversight board?

Send your thoughts to the member center at Sign in and submit your response under the title, Thoughts for Laura.

Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 8:03 AM, 01.23.2020