Twenty current and former inmates at a troubled county jail in Cleveland say in a lawsuit that they repeatedly have been denied medication or mental health treatment and subjected to inhumane and dangerous conditions.
Some of the inmates described seeing bugs swarming their food and showers, broken and overflowing toilets and being forced to sleep on the floor because of overcrowding.
Thirteen additional inmates this week joined the lawsuit first filed against Cuyahoga County officials at the end of last year.
The new complaints come after seven guards and an associate warden at the jail were indicted on a variety of charges earlier this month, including an allegation that a corrections officer stropped a nurse from caring for a prisoner beaten by another guard.
The FBI is conducting a civil rights investigation of prisoner treatment at the jail and looking into allegations of public corruption involving current and former county officials. State authorities also are investigating.
County officials said Tuesday that they’re reviewing the latest complaints but didn’t offer any comment on specifics of the lawsuit.
Some of the allegations in the inmates’ lawsuit are similar to those outlined in a report by inspectors from the U.S. Marshals Service, which concluded in November that conditions were inhumane and unsafe for prisoners and staff.
The county’s chief of public safety and justice said in February that jail operators have been aggressively working on fixing issues noted in the Marshals Service report.
But some of the new complaints said problems have persisted.
Many inmates said they were denied medication, personal hygiene items, accommodations for disabilities and medical visits.
One inmate diagnosed with several mental health disorders said he was denied all of his medication during the first month he was in jail and later received only one of them.
Another man, who spent a year in jail before being released in March, said conditions were so bad that he suffered from suicidal thoughts. Among the problems, he said, were a broken toilet that flooded his cell, bugs and mold in the showers and cold food on trays that smelled of mildew.
Seven inmates died in the jail between June and October of last year. An eighth inmate died in December. Four of the inmates killed themselves, records from the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office show.
The lawsuit said 55 people attempted suicide within a year while in custody of the corrections center.
Associated Press writer Mark Gillispie in Cleveland contributed.