Cook County Jail to Hire 600 New Guards

Facility will also provide better sanitation, employee training

By Matt Bartosik
|  Thursday, May 13, 2010  |  Updated 2:30 PM CDT
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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.

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Jail isn't supposed to be an enjoyable place, but two years ago, federal officials found the Cook County Jail to be especially cruel.

Inmates were being abused with excessive force; prisoners weren't being protected from one another; and the facility provided inadequate medical and mental health care, reports Chicago Breaking News.

"Some inmates were not given their mental illness medications for weeks," according to the New York Times, "while others were given such drugs without record of why. In August 2006, an inmate's leg was amputated after an infection beneath a cast went untreated."

The jail also failed to provide sufficient suicide prevention, sanitary conditions, or fire safety precautions, according to the United States Department of Justice report.

In an effort to improve conditions at the 96-acre facility, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has agreed to hire 600 additional jail guards over the next year, said officials.

Four independent monitors will oversee the facility's changes—which must include regular cell inspections and increased video surveillance—and will report to the federal court every six months.

"We have achieved a rigorous, comprehensive agreement that will remedy the unconstitutional conditions that were found at the Cook County Jail," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, reports the Sun-Times. "Inmates are entitled to conditions of confinement that pass constitutional muster."

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.

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