Cook County Inmates to Tear Down Vacant Buildings

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    Getty Images / Scott Olson
    Two women walk toward a visitor's entrance of a maximum security detention area of the Cook County jail February 12, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois.

    Cook County is using jail inmates to tear down abandoned buildings in areas hit hard by foreclosures.

    At a news conference Friday, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart will discuss the new program in which inmate work crews will dismantle vacant buildings in distressed communities in the county. The news conference will take place outside an abandoned home in Ford Heights that is in the process of being torn down by inmates sentenced to the sheriff's boot camp.

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    Ford Heights and nearby communities have the highest foreclosure rates in Cook County.

    It's called the Neighborhood Restoration initiative, and it's one of a number of unusual programs that Dart has pushed. Others include helping inmates learn to play chess and to garden.

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