Attorney to Sheriff Dart: Protect Jail Detainees, Not Your Reputation


In an interview Monday on “Chicago Tonight,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart lashed out at one of the attorneys representing county jail detainees in a suit over the jail’s response to the coronavirus and the charge that Dart didn’t do enough to keep detainees safe until ordered by a court.

“She’s a liar. We can dress this up and say, ‘Well, that’s her interpretation.’ That’s not her interpretation. That’s an outright, (categorical) lie,” Dart said.

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Watch that exchange below. Watch the full interview here.

“Those comments completely miss the mark of what is at stake here and what’s always been at stake here, and it also misstates the historical record,” said Alexa Van Brunt of the MacArthur Justice Center, one of the groups representing Cook County Jail detainees and the person Dart accused of lying. “A court, after hearing evidence from both sides, found that the detainees were at an unreasonable risk of losing their lives because of how the jail was handling the pandemic and … entered really strong protections (for) detainees.”

Robert Shannon, who is representing Dart in the suit over jail conditions, said it’s “irresponsible … to take credit for the hard work and the very remarkable positive results on the infection rate that have occurred at the jail. …That credit belongs to the hard work of Sheriff Dart, his partners at Cermak (Health Services), and all the sheriff’s team members that dug in and worked extraordinarily hard.”

“This idea of credit is just very telling about where the sheriff’s head is, which is not the protection of humans, but the protection of his reputation,” said Van Brunt, who warns that the pandemic is “still raging” and that a predicted fall surge could again put jail detainees at risk. “To call me irresponsible is to ignore the plight of the many hundreds of detainees who were suffering inside the jail and are still suffering as a result of what the jail failed to do to protect them.”


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