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Cook County Jail Guard Shortage

By Amy Hart in News on Dec 29, 2005 3:41PM


The population of Cook County Jail is increasing, and there are not enough guards to serve the inmates.

A 1982 federal decree set minimum staffing levels for the jail, but yesterday US District Judge George Marovich told Cook County commissioners that they need to do more to make sure these staffing levels are met. Sheriff Michael Sheahan says the 2006 Cook County budget sets aside no money for new guards, which Judge Marovich called "mind-boggling."

The John Howard Association, a correctional facility watchdog, says that between 668 to 798 additional guards are needed, and County Board President John Stroger agrees, but has said, "Obviously, we can not hire, train and pay for this in one budget simply adds to the challenges we will face for many years to come."

Sheahan has said that he would like to hire around 250 guards for 2006, which would cost around $15 million, but Stroger said the funding would need to come from "new revenue sources." Hmmm... is a property tax hike on the horizon?