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Cook County Jail Conditions "Unconstitutional"

By Margaret Lyons in News on Jul 17, 2008 6:14PM

2008_7_17.jail.jpgThe U.S. Attorney's office filed a report on Cook County Jail today, and their findings are horrific. According to the report, living conditions in the jail violate inmates' human rights.

The 17-month investigation revealed that prison officials regularly failed to protect inmates from harm, both from other inmates and from jail staff; failed to provide adequate heathcare, including suicide prevention; and failed to provide sanitary conditions.

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.

"When you're talking about unnecessary amputations and death, you have a serious problem," [U.S. Attorney Patrick] Fitzgerald said.

A 98-page letter was delivered this morning to Todd Stroger and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart outlining the problems, and the county now has 49 days to rectify the situation, after which the Justice Department could file a lawsuit.

Cook County Jail is the largest "single-site county pre-trial facility in the United States." The average daily population is 9,800, and includes men and women. [Fox, Trib, S-T]