Deal Would Compensate Jail Inmates Screened for STDs

July 9, 2007

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More than 32,000 former Cook County Jail inmates would be eligible for at least $100 each under a settlement that goes to the County Board tomorrow. The deal would resolve a class-action lawsuit over screening for sexually transmitted diseases. Chicago Public Radio's Chip Mitchell reports.

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A nationally recognized program at the jail last year diagnosed almost 1,500 STD cases. But the suit alleges some men got swabbed without privacy, cleanliness or consent. The $3.2 million settlement would cover tests through this January, when the county scrapped the screening to cut costs. Dr. Michael Puisis directed the jail's medical operation in the 1990s. He predicts the settlement will go over with county commissioners who think STD screening is a waste of money.

PUISIS: “Because they're really not committed to allowing it to happen under humane conditions.”

Puisis says the problems stemmed from poor facilities and labor relations. The county is planning to build a new intake center at the jail. But there are no plans to restore the STD screening.

I'm Chip Mitchell, Chicago Public Radio.