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Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice

 
"Though it is not widely known, the prosecutor is the most powerful law enforcement official in the criminal justice system.  One might think that judges are the most powerful, or even the police, but in reality the prosecutor holds the cards.  It is the prosecutor, far more than any other criminal justice official, who holds the keys to the jailhouse door."

-Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

Starting in 2012, GCC has been active in reforming the Criminal Justice System in Cuyahoga County, with a particular focus on creating change and accountability through the office of the county prosecutor. This Tuesday March 15, residents of Cuyahoga County will vote between two candidates for county prosecutor in the primary election.

On February 16, in front of over 1,000 GCC leaders, both prosecutor candidates committed to crafting specific written protocols that they would adopt if elected that addressed our demands around independent investigation and prosecution of police use of lethal force cases, overcharging, and diversion (read our complete demands here). 

Both candidates submitted initial protocols to GCC delegations on March 1. A group of GCC leaders then provided written feedback to the candidates on their plans and encouraged them to make improvements before GCC made their plans public. 

We will use their written documents to hold whoever is elected as next county prosecutor accountable to their promises over the next four years.

As a strictly nonpartisan 501c3 organization, GCC will refrain from making any endorsement, commentary, or suggestions on these policies.  Rather, we urge you to use these protocols to make an informed decision about who you want to elect as the next Cuyahoga County Prosecutor.  Therefore, please disseminate these policies to the thousands and thousands of leaders that are in GCC, our congregations, and our communities so that all voters can make an informed decision.  Please forward this email to your friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Share it on Facebook, tweet it, Instagram it, blog it, e-blast it in your congregation's newsletters, announce it from the pulpit.

The more people that read these protocols, the more informed our electorate will be, and the greater GCC's power will be to hold the next prosecutor accountable to their promises.

 

 

 


 

On February 16, 2015 : 1,014 GCC members and guest put the justice system on trial. We demanded three things of the county prosecutor candidates:

1. INDEPENDENT PROSECUTOR: To restore trust with the public you will serve, we demand that the prosecutor’s office creates a written protocol for: referring every instance of police use of lethal force in the county for investigation and, if warranted, prosecution by the office of the Ohio Attorney General with full transparency of its process and results.

2. OVERCHARGING: To reduce overcharging of misdemeanors as felonies, we demand that the prosecutor’s office creates a written protocol for: reviewing every referral from all municipal courts in the county and sending every possible referral back to the municipal court for prosecution as a misdemeanor, with full transparency of its actions.

3. DVERSION: To recognize that substance addiction is a public health not a criminal law issue in regard to low-level nonviolent offenses, we demand that: the prosecutor’s office expand diversion for treatment and support, without conviction, for all substance addiction-related events and individuals charged, using criteria for diversion that allow all races, genders and ages an equal opportunity for treatment and support, with full transparency of its actions and interactions.

We will send delegations to each candidate on March 1 to collect written policy addressing these demands.


 

On February 3, 2016 : with over 1,100 GCC members and guests, GCC presented our recommendations for the Consent Decree to Mayor Frank Jackson, US Attorney Steven Dettelbach, and Department of Justice Civil Rights Section Chief Johnathan Smith.

Read the complete Recommendations HERE.

 


 

Our Vision: GCC imagines a Greater Cleveland where every citizen experiences restorative justice, is equally protected, and receives fair and just treatment before the law.

CLICK HERE FOR THE 1-PAGER OUTLINING GCC'S CURRENT CAMPAIGN ON THE FELON FACTORY OF CUYAHOGA COUNTY. 

Our Victories:

On Feb. 20, 2012, GCC organized a Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Candidates Accountability night attended by over 950 people.  All five candidates for County Prosecutor made specific commitments to reform how criminal justice is practicied in the County, including:

  • Supporing a rule change that prevents juveniles from waiving their right to counsel.

  • Tracking and working to eliminate unnecessary overcharging.

  • Tracking and eliminating racial disparities.

  • Directing more low-level offenders to treatment and diversion programs.

GCC also worked in Columbus to pass historic collateral sanctions reform legislation that helps ex-offenders obtain jobs when they re-enter our communities, and we hosted Governor John Kasich and Senator Shirley Smith for the bill signing in front of 300 people at Elizabeth Baptist Church in July 2012.

 


 

  

On May 29, 2014, GCC gathered 1,000 people at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church to  to call for shutting down the felon factory in Cuyahoga County and stopping the flow of illegal guns into our communities.

Together, GCC announced that we would no longer accept drug abuse criminalization and gun violence. "Until now we have given our silent consent for a culture that sends our youths, our families, our neighbors to prison for non-violent, low-level drug abuse – and they are labeled as felons on their life resume” said Rabbi Josh Caruso, GCC Co-Chair. “Until now we have given silent consent to the proliferation of guns in our society. Until now we have given silent consent as guns are illegally trafficked from the suburbs to the city – and back again.” 

Bishop Douglas Miles of the Industrial Areas Foundation Board of Directors, who traveled from Baltimore for the Action, called on GCC "to continue to move away from the shore and into deep waters" where there is more risk but even greater reward.

At the action, County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty agreed to meet with GCC within 45 days. GCC will press Prosecutor McGinty to report specifically what he will do to end the practice of pursuing felony charges for persons arrested for low-level, non-violent drug abuse by sending these cases back to the appropriate city prosecutors, who can charge these offenses as misdemeanors.