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 looking to give up its claim to the largest single-site jail in the nation.
Sheriff Tom Dart announced Tuesday he would be shuttering two jail buildings because they weren't being used. It's a move he says will save the county up to $15 million a year.
“At a time when every government agency is looking for ways to cut costs and save taxpayer dollars, it makes no sense to keep half-empty buildings operating at full capacity,” Dart said. “I have a duty to operate the jail as responsibly and efficiently as possible. These steps are steps in the right direction and, best of all, they lay a foundation to take even more steps to save even more taxpayer money down the road.”
The closings are possible because of a dwindling jail population.
In 2002, the average daily capacity at the Cook County Jail exceeded 11,000 and many detainees were forced to sleep on the floor or rotate time in bunks with others, the press release reads. Just last month, the population dipped near 8,400. Today, it is around 8,600.
At least one of the buildings will remain at the ready in case the prison population spikes.
The complex at 2700 S. California Ave. has 10 divisions. The Division II Dorm 1 and Division III Drug Unit buildings, shown on the layout above, will be closed.