DOJ Report Blasts Chicago Jail Conditions
A new Justice Department report on conditions at the Cook County jail in Chicago finds the conditions at the jail deplorable.
Cook County Jail does not meet minimum constitutional standards and routinely puts inmates at serious risk, U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said Thursday at a news conference following the release of a scathing Justice Department report on the facility.
The jail falls well short of basic standards, Fitzgerald said, and inmates have been subjected to violence and poor medical care as a result. Among the chief concerns is that the jail fails to protect inmates against beatings, both by corrections officers and other prisoners.
Fitzgerald said "some guards have engaged in organized reprisals against inmates who insult them." Also,
Health care also is a serious problem, the Justice Department found. The report cited an example of an inmate who contracted sepsis from an untreated gunshot wound and died. Another had to have a limb amputated.
Go to jail, lose a limb or die? America. Prison Nation. [More...]
In one alleged incident cited in the report, guards in May 2006 beat an inmate so severely for refusing to obey orders that he needed to be taken to a top-level trauma center, where he was placed on a respirator.
According to the report, the inmate was wandering around the jail intake area, asking for his methadone, a legal drug that can be prescribed to heroin addicts to calm their addiction. A guard told him to return to his holding pen, and when he refused, more than one guard beat him, the report said.
He was hit with a radio, and a guard smashed the inmate's dentures under his boot when they fell out, it said. He sustained multiple broken bones and a collapsed lung, it said. "An especially high number of abuse of force allegations do emerge from" the intake area, the report said.
This is hardly the first time the Cook County jail has had a negative report on prisoner abuse.
The jail houses 9,800 inmates who are awaiting trial -- meaning they have not yet been convicted of a crime, they just can't make bond. The investigation that led to the report lasted 17 months.
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