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Broken jail elevators kept mother from visiting son

Sheriff: Elevators repaired, operating Saturday
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Posted at 11:15 PM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-15 11:00:58-05

CINCINNATI — Update: 2/15/20

According to a news release from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, one of the elevators in the south building of the Hamilton County Justice Center has been repaired. Inmates in the south building can start to receive visitors tomorrow from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Initial report:
Tranell Johnson said she usually visits her son in the Hamilton County Justice Center every day, but three of the elevators are broken and visitation is currently suspended for the south building until they can be repaired.

Johnson says it’s “devastating” being unable to see him and wants an explanation.

“Worrying a lot. That’s my oldest son,” Johnson said. “I’m going to do what I can to get him the help and make sure that’s he’s safe, that he’s well. I feel very hurt and disappointed. I’m looking for answers myself.”

Johnson said she never lets much time pass without speaking to and seeing her children.

“Every day… every day. All eight of them,” Johnson said.

But she hasn't laid eyes on her oldest in two weeks.

She also said he's unable to visit the commissary and utilize other parts of the jail until repairs are made.

“They don’t deserve that. That’s how I feel,” Johnson said. “Whatever reason they’re going through what they’re going through, they should still be able to reach out to their family and to be cared for.”

Johnson said she found out about the broken elevators through a phone call from her son. She hasn't heard anything directly from the Justice Center.

“I don’t understand it. I really don’t,” Johnson said.

While she and other family members speak to him by phone, she said nothing can replace seeing him face to face.

“He tells me he’s doing OK, but I want to go down there and see my son for myself and look him in the eye and know that he’s doing well,” Johnson said.

A sheriff's office spokesman said they're waiting for parts and the elevators should be fixed by next week. He said the goal is to replace the elevators entirely, but that decision lies with the county.

A county spokesperson told WCPO the money for that project should be coming in March and the elevators will be replaced sometime this year.