Since the beginning of 2023, Cook County Jail administration has reported 16 deaths in custody, with five attributed to overdoses, according to Cook County Medical Examiner records. To address the uptick in overdose deaths, jail leadership took unprecedented measures, including what some called a facility-wide paper ban.
Cook County Jail
“We’re doing all this work with people and mental illness and working with their individual issues, but then when they would leave us, they would go out to the community with minimal services,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said. “And I said, OK, we will set up our own services office.”
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office this week released surveillance video of the September 2022 incident, which shows a man speaking to the officer and another guard before the officer, identified by sheriff’s office as 44-year-old Richard Smith, begins punching the man.
Detainees awaiting trial or serving misdemeanor sentences retain the right to vote, but face barriers to exercising it in many parts of the U.S. Cook County Jail, with more than 5,500 inmates and detainees, is one of the largest jails in the nation.
There are now 533 confirmed monkeypox cases in Illinois. And one of those cases was confirmed last week in Cook County Jail. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office said the individual is believed to have contracted the virus in the community prior to being ordered into custody.
Do inmates in Illinois prisons and jails have a right to safety? That’s the central question raised in a new publication written by former Cook County Department of Corrections Warden Nneka Jones Tapia.
Chief Judge Timothy Evans announced Tuesday that his office — which covers the courts and the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center — will impose COVID vaccine mandates. This after the Chief Judge was criticized for previously not mandating the vaccine for all employees.
More than 500 current and former employees of the Cook County jail say they were subject to “vulgar” “and “offensive” misconduct by detainees, and that Sheriff Tom Dart’s office did not do enough to protect them from the constant harassment.
“We ask that IDPH acknowledge the high risk of COVID-19 exposure for people living in all forms of state custody and the staff who work with them and prioritize them for vaccinations,” dozens of groups wrote in a letter to state health officials.
An official with the Teamsters Local 700 is calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other leaders to prioritize corrections officers due to the “high risk of exposure” to the disease he claimed remains in the jail.
The sheriff began feeling symptomatic on Nov. 20, his office said, and he immediately self-quarantined at that point. He has not worked in his office since Nov. 19.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office announced that beginning Monday, it will temporarily halt visits at the jail as Chicago and Cook County continue dealing with a second surge of COVID-19.
Cook County Jail was once the hot spot for the coronavirus, but now the positivity rate is lower there than in Chicago and Cook County. As COVID-19 surges in the community, officials and advocates worry it will reach detainees.
There is little that’s normal about the 2020 election, including the fact that this is the first election cycle in which detainees can cast ballots at Cook County Jail.
The Cook County sheriff says an advocate for detainees is lying about what the jail has done to curb the coronavirus. She responds on “Chicago Tonight.”
Through the use of aggressive strategies and widespread testing, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office was able to successfully mitigate the spread of COVID-19 inside the Cook County Jail, according to a new study.