Recently, UUCC hosted the September EngageGCC meeting, where tackling medical debt as an action issue was discussed. RIP Medical Debt has been engaged to relieve unpaid medical debt in Cleveland. They have negotiated a deal to retire $6 million in debt for $40 thousand. The new website rolled out on Monday October 2, 2023. In addition, GCC has been awarded a $453,000 multi-year grant from Voices for Health Justice to support its organizing work in the Lee-Harvard neighborhood to provide access to primary healthcare in the neighborhood itself. The anchor partners for the project are GCC member congregations Affinity Missionary Baptist Church and Lee Road Baptist Church.
Criminal Justice Initiatives:
GCC learned at its Justice for Our Children Action last January that Cuyahoga County sends more children to adult court and prison than any other urban County in Ohio. Since then, GCC’s Bindover Team has been meeting with key leaders and stakeholders to learn how our juvenile system works. GCC has also continued to explore how other urban counties deal with offenses by children in their communities. One of the differences is that other urban counties use public defenders to represent youthful offenders in 100% of cases, unless there is a conflict of interest. In Cuyahoga County, the Juvenile Court judge determines whether cases will be represented by public defenders or by court-appointed private attorneys—with the result that currently most juveniles in bindover cases are represented by private attorneys appointed by the judge. The Bindover Team believes that public defenders are better suited than private attorneys to represent these serious cases. Leaders of the Pretrial Justice Issue Team are continuing their meetings with County Council members as a follow-up to the presentation they made on June 20th before County Council. The Bindover Team leaders met again with several Juvenile Court judges on October 3rd to push for 100% use of public defenders to represent youth in court trials.
We will need to build a team of volunteers from our GCC member congregations if we are to cover every bindover hearing to build the case for the change that is needed. The team is looking for volunteers willing to commit to attend, listen and document one or two court hearings each month over the next year. The team will provide training as well as pair each volunteer with an experienced observer for the first hearing. You can choose from one of the following training sessions:
Tuesday, October 17, at 7pm at Forest Hills Church, 3031 Monticello Blvd.
Wednesday, October 18, at 1pm at Fairmount Presbyterian Church, 2757 Fairmount Blvd.
Please sign up here for one of the training sessions: https://forms.gle/VrGKVygovWcmdhuU7
Finally, GCC leader Louise McKinney was honored as St. John AME’s “Shining Star” on September 22nd by the North Ohio Conference Lay Organization for her long-time work with GCC and most recently her work on Issue 1. Congratulations Louise!