Cook County Jail
The Cook County Jail, located on 96 acres (390,000 m2) in Cook County, Illinois, is the largest single site jail in the United States of America, housing approximately 12,700 men and women. The facility is located at 2800 S. California Ave in the city of Chicago. It employs 3,900 law enforcement officials and 7,000 civilian employees.
It was one of three sites in which executions were carried out by electrocution in Illinois. Between 1928 and 1962, the electric chair was used 67 times at the jail, including the state's last electrocution of James Duke on August 24, 1962. The state's other electrocutions were carried out at the Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill and at the Menard Correctional Center in Chester.
On average, the inmate population is 53% Black, 36% Hispanic, and 11% White and other. Most inmates are African Americans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, or Whites. Most inmates in the facility are members of either the People Nation or the Folk Nation.
U.S. Department of Justice report
In July 2008, the civil rights division of the United States Department of Justice released a report finding that the Eighth Amendment civil rights of the inmates has been systematically violated. The report found that the CCJ failed to adequately protect inmates from harm or risk of harm from other inmates or staff; failed to provide adequate suicide prevention; failed to provide adequate sanitary environmental conditions; failed to provide adequate fire safety precautions; and failed to provide adequate medical and mental health care.
Specific alleged violations that have resulted in Federal sanctions and/or class action lawsuits include:
- Systematic beatings by corrections officers
- Poor food quality
- Inmates' being forced to sleep on cell floors due to overcrowding and mismanagement (resulting in a $1,000 per inmate class-action settlement)
- Rodent infestation and injury caused to sleeping inmates by rat and mouse bites
- Violations of privacy during multiple invasive strip searches
- Failure to provide adequate medical care, including failure to dispense medications
- Invasive and painful mandatory tests for male STDs (resulting in a $200 per inmate class action settlement)
- Unnecessarily long waiting time for discharge upon payment of bond, completion of sentence, or charges' being dropped. Wait times are currently routinely in excess of 8 hours, nearly all of which is spent with many inmates packed into tiny cells.
In popular culture
- Davey, Monica. "Federal Report Finds Poor Conditions at Cook County Jail." New York Times. July 18, 2008.
- "'A serious problem' U.S. attorney says Cook County Jail falls short of basic standards." Chicago Tribune. July 18, 2008.