Judge says sheriff is improving Cook County Jail
Motion would have required Sheriff Tom Dart to draw up new measures to curtail an alleged “crisis of violence”
By C1 Staff
COOK COUNTY, Ill. — A judge recently denied a motion for preliminary injunction against a lawsuit that claimed the Cook County Jail is a cesspool of violence.
The motion would have required Sheriff Tom Dart to draw up new measures to curtail an alleged “crisis of violence” at the facility, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Instead, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall said that Dart had been diligently working under a federal monitor to improve conditions at the jail.
The suit claimed that there was a culture of brutality for the 2,000 inmates housed in two maximum-security divisions.
Despite lawyers having received 100 signed declarations from inmates claiming to be victims or witnesses to abuse inside the jail, only four testified before Kendall.
She said in her ruling that there appeared to be a severe disconnect between what was alleged in the suit and the testimony in court. She said there was evidence that most cases of alleged abuse were investigated and officers punished.
“The jail is not a pleasant place to live, but ‘the Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons,’ ” Kendall wrote, quoting case law from 1981.
The jail has been operating since 2010 under a consent decree with the Justice Department that has kept a close watch on inmate safety issues.
Despite denying the motion for the injunction, the suit is still allowed to proceed to trial.
One attorney, David Shapiro, said in a statement that the evidence developed for the preliminary injunction hearing was “limited in both time and scope” and that attorneys looked forward to showing at trial “an inexcusable pattern of brutality” at the jail.