Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center, Cleveland, Ohio
January 8, 2018
At least 12 juvenile detainees between the ages of 14 and 16 took control of a pod and held it for more than three hours, destroying infrastructure, threatening guards and pouring soap on the floor. Initial estimates put the damage at $200,000 or more.
Damages included damaged cell doors, clogged plumbing, broken ceiling tiles, light fixtures, windows, sprinklers, showers, toilets, and a broken television.
Following the uprising, six teens faced charges for their alleged involvement, multiple prison staff and administrators retired, were fired, or demoted, and the county announced numerous reforms, including increased case management, hiring additional guards and mental health treatment.
The uprising occurred just a few months after Cuyahoga County agreed to pay $180,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by for former juvenile detainees who alleged that guards at the detention center locked them in rooms together and forced them to fight for the guards’ entertainment. According to the suit, “fight nights” were a long-standing tradition at the facility.
The uprising also occurred a year and a half after thirteen officers were removed from their jobs following a complaint from the parent of an inmate that a guard had thrown urine on her son. The mother stated that guards urinating into empty milk containers and throwing it at inmates was a standard practice at the facility. Video obtained by Fox 8 shows the incident, in which it appears that staff set up a baby pool so that the guard could throw urine on the youth without making a mess.
A September 2018 report by The Center for Children’s Law and Policy on the detention center found serious educational shortfalls, a “significant and dangerous dependence” on confining youth in their rooms for long periods of time, staffing shortages, forced overtime and inadequate training that hindered “safe and humane” supervision of the youth and a hostile culture between staff and youth.
“I TEAM: Exclusive look at damage after riot in county Juvenile Detention Center“, Fox 8, January 9, 2018.
“I TEAM: Uncovering more about teen inmates gone wild“, Fox 8, January 10, 2018.
“I-Team: Tapes reveal untold story of rampage in juvenile jail“, Fox 8, January 11, 2018.
“Inmates threatened to stab deputies with glass during riot at Juvenile Detention Center“, Cleveland.com, January 12, 2018.
“Body cam video shows inside Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center during riot“, Fox 8, January 26, 2018.
“Teens involved in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center riot appear in court“, Fox 8, February 2, 2018.
“I TEAM: more shake-up at juvenile jail after riot“, Fox 8, February 19, 2018.
“I-Team exclusive: Look at $100,000 repairs from teen rampage at juvenile jail“, Fox 8, April 4, 2018.
“Officials announce improvements to juvenile detention center after riot“, Fox 8, April 4, 2018.
“I TEAM: Sweeping investigation has 13 juvenile jail officers off job“, Fox 8, July 19, 2017.
“Video shows incident involving teen at juvenile jail that led to firing of supervisor“, Fox 8, September 12, 2017.
“Juvie Inmates Say They Were Forced to Fight for Guards’ Amusement“, Courthouse News Service, September 14, 2017.
“Cuyahoga County to pay $180,000 settlement after juvenile inmates forced to fight for guards’ entertainment“, Fox 8, October 24, 2018.
Cuyahoga County Juvenile Justice Center Conditions of Confinement Assessment Narrative Report, Center for Children’s Law and Policy, September 2018.