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Alumnus and Cleveland judge cuts jail population in half amid growing coronavirus fears

Even before COVID-19 came to the United States, Judge Brendan J. Sheehan (JD ’93) wanted to reduce the number of inmates at the Cuyahoga County Jail. But as news of the coronavirus began breaking during the first months of the year, Sheehan led a group of 34 judges and county officials with greater urgency to trim the jail population from approximately 1,800 inmates down to 900 within four weeks. 

With the help of medical professionals, the group identified inmates with a high risk of severe illness as a result of contracting the virus and worked to find solutions to move that vulnerable population out of the jail. In addition, Sheehan and colleagues moved to expedite sentencing and quickly close cases.

“We were way ahead of the curve, even nationally,” said Sheehan. “We immediately knew we needed to make space for our inmates so that when this virus hit our jail we can quarantine people, and we did it. We were successful because of everybody’s collaboration. Our jail has become a model for the nation.”  

Also in this Issue...

Quarantined in China

Alumna Carrie Kidd (BA '17) sat in an airport in Wuhan, China, during an eight-hour layover on the night of December 30, 2019. As she waited for her next flight, she scrolled through Chinese news sources on her phone. Suddenly, she spotted a headline with Wuhan in the title. Read more >>

Law grad fights for ICE detainees and wins

Elizabeth Bonham (JD ’15) staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio in Cleveland, successfully fought for the release of 21 people held by immigration authorities in four Ohio jails as COVID-19 cases spiked at the facilities. Read more >>

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