It took a staffing crisis for Cuyahoga County officials to agree to a pay raise at the Juvenile Detention Center.
Starting wages for new officers are now $24 per hour, up from a little more than $18, The Plain Dealer reported on Oct. 8.
The raises follow warnings from Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge Thomas O’Malley that a staffing crisis led to juveniles being locked down for long periods of time.
“The raises are intended to help the detention center hire and retain more officers, which would help to prevent juveniles from being locked down for long periods and improve low officer morale,” The Plain Dealer reported.
Staffing crisis inevitable in face of low pay
A staffing shortage was exactly what we said would happen when administration officials walked away from the bargaining table and sought legal assistance from its “Sister” Court, the General Division of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.
We find it ironic that the recent $6 raise is substantially higher than what Local 860 sought in its contract two years ago. Officials refused to consider it and shut down all negotiations.
And then reality inevitably came knocking.
The Plain Dealer reports:
“Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge Thomas O’Malley, in an Aug. 24 letter to county Public Safety Chief Robert Coury, said juvenile detention officers needed raises because some left for better pay at the adult jail, deepening the detention center’s staffing shortage.
“The raises are intended to help with a longstanding staffing shortage at the juvenile lockup, cited in a 2018 report by the Washington D.C.-based Center for Children’s Law and Policy.”
In the August letter, Judge O’Malley wrote that the detention center has about 83 officers — 20 shy of full staffing. Another 27 were out on leave for medical or other reasons.
Understaffing forces staff to work overtime, leading to officer burnout that makes it harder to do the job safely and effectively, according to Judge O’Malley in his letter.
It also leads to lockdowns for residents for nondisciplinary reasons — a violation of Ohio law.
Lockdowns inevitably lead to violence. Assaults on officers jumped from 15 in all of 2020 to 27 just in the first six months of 2021, according to Judge O’Malley in his letter.
Following long periods of lockdowns caused by staffing shortages, a small riot broke out in August, causing $20,000 in damages.
Sign our petition to protect Cleveland’s children
Our kids deserve better. Lockdowns exacerbate mental health issues and negatively impact access to school and exercise programs. They also brew needless violence.
Sign the petition found at the bottom of our homepage. Tell the Court it needs better staffing and employee training to keep our children safe.