WBEZ | Cook County Jail http://www.wbez.org/tags/cook-county-jail Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Ex-felon informs formerly incarcerated of right to vote http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-felon-informs-formerly-incarcerated-right-vote-110994 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ex-Felon2.png" style="height: 210px; width: 280px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="FORCE members and ex-offenders Marlon Chamberlain and Teleza Rodgers meet at a McDonald’s on the city’s west side. They work to notify ex-felons of the right to vote. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" />In a back corner at a Chicago McDonald&rsquo;s, Marlon Chamberlain sits and goes through papers under a movie poster. It&rsquo;s from the film &ldquo;The Hurricane&rdquo; the true story of Rubin &ldquo;Hurricane&rdquo; Carter, the famed boxer turned prisoner right&rsquo;s activist.</p><p>There, Chamberlain meets those recently incarcerated who want a new start. Chamberlain is with FORCE, or Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality. Chamberlin&rsquo;s job is to talk to ex-prisoners about everything from how to get a job to how to become a community leader. Part of his work includes talking about his past. Specifically the events leading up to September 2002.</p><p>&ldquo;I have a federal offense. I was arrested with conspiracy with intent to distribute and sentenced to 240 months,&rdquo; says Chamberlain. &ldquo;With the Fair Sentencing Act, I ended up serving 10 and a half years.&rdquo;</p><p>He was in federal prison when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. Chamberlain remembered watching the event and cheering along while the other inmates. But even then, the political process that moved Obama to the presidency was something Chamberlain didn&rsquo;t care much about.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t believe voting mattered. I didn&rsquo;t see how things could be different or how the mayor or certain state representative could change things in my community. That connection wasn&rsquo;t there.&rdquo;</p><p>After his release, a FORCE member talked to Chamberlain at a halfway house. That&rsquo;s when he started to understand that local lawmakers and not the president decide whether money gets allocated to ex-offender programs and how sentencing guidelines are outlined.</p><p>Chamberlain also learned that ex-felons could vote. In several states, if you&rsquo;re convicted of a felony, you lose the right to vote. Permanently. But in Illinois, an ex-offender can vote upon release. Chamberlain didn&rsquo;t know that. He says lots of people with records don&rsquo;t know that either. Which is why now he&rsquo;s working overtime to get the word out before election day.</p><p>Tucked away between a dead end road and railroad tracks on the city&rsquo;s southwest side, Chamberlain meets with a group of men from the Chicagoland Prison Outreach. They&rsquo;re in a work study program and Chamberlain visits with them on Thursdays. It&rsquo;s part classroom, part bible study and part welding work study. Chamberlain starts the discussion by asking &lsquo;When was the last time anyone voted?&rsquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ex-Felon1.png" title="Marlon Chamberlain talks to a group from the Chicagoland Prison Outreach about the importance of voting (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></p><p>One person pipes up and says he voted while in jail. He too was told he couldn&rsquo;t vote, but while in the Cook County Jail, inmates awaiting trial can vote. They&rsquo;re given applications for absentee ballots. This year, the Board of Elections processed tens of thousands of new applications. Many inmate applications are rejected, mainly because addresses can&rsquo;t be verified. Out of the more than 9,500 inmates requesting ballots, around 1,300 were deemed eligible.</p><p>A person who goes by the name of Kris says even though he can vote, he&rsquo;s not interested.</p><p>&ldquo;I never cared who was in office,&rdquo; says Kris, &ldquo;I wouldn&rsquo;t even know who to vote for.&rdquo;</p><p>The class tells him he needs to do some homework to know the candidates&rsquo; platforms. Chamberlain echoes the notion of doing a little homework and cautions the class about political stereotypes. Like that all African Americans vote the Democratic ticket.</p><p>&ldquo;Because you got Democrats who won&rsquo;t do nothing. I don&rsquo;t believe in befriending politicians. You know, no permanent friends, no permanent enemies,&rdquo; says Chamberlain. He points to the very room they sit in as a result of some kind<br />of political action.</p><p>&ldquo;So what would happen if people don&rsquo;t vote for the elected official who signed off on this? Then this program goes away,&rdquo; Chamberlain notes. Kris does not care.</p><p>&ldquo;All I see is a lot of squad cars coming around. Our neighborhood, how it was in the past, it was better than how it is now,&rdquo; says Kris. &ldquo; At least we had stuff we could do. We didn&rsquo;t have to stand on the block to have fun. We actually had places.&rdquo; Chamberlain asks Kris if he&rsquo;s ever spoken to his alderman about the problems he sees. Kris shrugs, admitting he&rsquo;s never bothered to make contact. &ldquo;The city is so fou-fou right now. The city ain&rsquo;t right.&rdquo;</p><p>While most people heard a person complaining about problems, Chamberlain heard someone much like himself. A person aware of problems, who knows things could be better. Back at the McDonalds, Chamberlain meets up with FORCE worker Teleza Rodgers. She too, is an ex-felon and covers the city&rsquo;s North Lawndale neighborhood. They talk about how hard it is to get ex-felons motivated to vote. Especially since many of them live the misconception that their voting rights were taken away from them when they went to prison.</p><p>&ldquo;People who don&rsquo;t know us are making decisions about our lives or livelihoods and our neighborhoods. They don&rsquo;t live where we live at,&rdquo; says Rodgers. &ldquo;They (ex-felons)<br />tend to have an ear to that. I say we can&rsquo;t expect to have anyone do anything for us if we&rsquo;re not doing it.&rdquo;</p><p>Rodgers says there&rsquo;s no way around the impact of voter representation. And that several questions on November&rsquo;s ballot can directly impact ex-felons and others in Chicago. Like whether the state should increase funding for mental-health services, whether a school-funding formula for disadvantaged children should be reset, and whether to increase the minimum wage.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-felon-informs-formerly-incarcerated-right-vote-110994 Lawsuit: Man beaten in Cook County jail more than 10 hours after judge ordered his release http://www.wbez.org/news/lawsuit-man-beaten-cook-county-jail-more-10-hours-after-judge-ordered-his-release-110788 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 5.25.21 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Under the authority of Sheriff Tom Dart, Cook County inmates who&rsquo;ve already been freed by a judge are taken back into the jail&rsquo;s general population while they wait to be processed out.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>It&rsquo;s a practice that&rsquo;s been called unconstitutional, and more than a year ago Dart told WBEZ&nbsp; he&rsquo;d fix it.</p><p>But little has changed.</p><p>For one of the men who went through this process, Edward Shultz, going back into lockup turned out to be dangerous.</p><p>Shultz went before a Cook County judge in suburban Bridgeview around 10 in the morning on May 8, 2013.</p><p>There he pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a weapon, a misdemeanor.</p><p>Shultz had been picked up about three weeks earlier after police officers in Oak Lawn found brass knuckles in his glove compartment during a traffic stop. He was taken to Cook County jail at 26th Street and California Avenue on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side and stayed there while he awaited trial.</p><p>After he pleaded guilty, the judge ruled that the 20-or-so days he had spent waiting was sufficient punishment and ordered Shultz be released.</p><p>Shultz says he was relieved and excited to go back to his family.</p><p>Before he could do that, he was taken back to a holding cell where he says he waited more than seven hours to be bused back to the jail.</p><p>Around 6 p.m. in the evening, Shultz was in handcuffs being ushered back into Cook County jail.</p><p>&ldquo;By the time they get you back to the jail, you know, the shift change comes and they leave you and you&rsquo;re still in handcuffs and they put you in a large room all handcuffed together,&rdquo; Shultz says.</p><p>After that, Shultz was returned to the deck where he had been living and he started to gather his things.</p><p>&ldquo;I went into the washroom, a group of inmates walked in and started asking me questions and I told them I don&rsquo;t know I&rsquo;m just getting ready to go home. I was struck by an inmate. And at that time I was still conscious and about maybe six or seven more inmates ran in the bathroom on me,&rdquo; Shultz says.</p><p>After that, he says, he was knocked unconscious.</p><p>Another inmate came and helped him up, and offered him a rag to clean his face.</p><p>Then Shultz says he made a beeline for the jail&rsquo;s phones and made a collect call to his grandmother, Lucy Griffin.</p><p>WBEZ obtained a recording of that call, and <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/edward-shultz-jail-phone-call">you can listen to it here</a>. In it, Shultz sounds disoriented. He pleads with his grandma to arrange for someone to pick him up outside of the jail, although he doesn&rsquo;t know exactly when he&rsquo;ll get out.</p><p>&ldquo;I just got beat up really bad,&rdquo; he tells her. &ldquo;The whole side of my head is swollen and face is swollen and my nose is broken.&rdquo;</p><p>When he tells her the judge had given him credit for time served, she asks &ldquo;Well, then why did you go back to jail?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Because you have to go back to jail until they call you out of here,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Shultz says it was only after he made the call that any guards noticed his injuries.</p><p>According to incident reports from the jail, Shultz had visible bumps and red marks on his head and face and a bloody nose.</p><p>Those reports list the time of the beating as 8:45 p.m., almost 11 hours after a judge had declared Shultz a free man.</p><p>The same month Shultz was attacked in a jail bathroom, Sheriff Tom Dart told WBEZ he wanted to change the way the jail handled inmates after a judge orders their release.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to get people out of the jail as quickly as possible,&rdquo; he said in an interview with WBEZ&rsquo;s Robert Wildeboer in May of 2013.</p><p>And Dart pointed to a pilot program that would allow workers in suburban courthouses to check for warrants and everything else so inmates can be discharged straight from court.</p><p>Cara Smith, the jail&rsquo;s executive director, says that program is now in every suburban courthouse.</p><p>But so far, it&rsquo;s only enabled two inmates to leave from the courthouse.</p><p>She says the sheriff&rsquo;s office is doing its &ldquo;very best&rdquo; to improve the discharge process. But she couldn&rsquo;t say that the wait time has gotten any shorter for the typical inmate.</p><p>&ldquo;Our two primary goals are overall to get people released as quickly as possible, but to make sure the right people are being released. We have a very, very antiquated system &hellip; it&rsquo;s paper-based primarily,&rdquo; Smith says. &ldquo;We have to be extremely careful that we&rsquo;re not releasing the wrong individual.&rdquo;</p><p>In order to do that, workers at the jail have to go through the paper records to check for outstanding warrants before they can let an inmate go.</p><p>Attorney Patrick Morrissey agrees the sheriff should be doing these thorough checks. But he says the process is way too long, and unsafe for the people waiting to be released.</p><p>&ldquo;These are people who are entitled to their freedom. And people who are entitled to be free should be released in the most efficient and timely manner,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Morrissey is representing Shultz in a lawsuit against Tom Dart and Cook County.</p><p>That lawsuit is on top of the ongoing class action suit brought over the discharge process.</p><p>Shultz&rsquo;s federal complaint blames poor supervision at the jail for his beating.</p><p>And it alleges that Shultz never should have been at the jail more than 10 hours after a judge had declared him a free man.</p><p>Morrissey says he knows it is tough to change a system as big and old as Cook County&rsquo;s.</p><p>&ldquo;But I don&rsquo;t think there&rsquo;s been enough attention and focus by the sheriff&rsquo;s office to really retool the system,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>He adds that one fix could be to have a separate waiting room at the jail.</p><p>That would keep people who have already been freed away from the general population while their paperwork is processed.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/167302102&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="http://TWITTER.COM/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 05:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lawsuit-man-beaten-cook-county-jail-more-10-hours-after-judge-ordered-his-release-110788 Views differ on job description in Cook sheriff's race http://www.wbez.org/news/views-differ-job-description-cook-sheriffs-race-109781 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/tom dart_AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Incumbent Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has much more money and name recognition than any of his three challengers for the March 18 Democratic primary. The contest has not been getting much attention.</p><p>But the race is underscoring how much the sheriff&rsquo;s job has changed since Dart took office in 2006.</p><p>On a recent chilly Monday morning, challenger Bill Evans greeted shivering commuters at the 95th Street &amp; Dan Ryan &lsquo;L&rsquo; stop, handing out campaign literature. One of his palm cards features a photo of a younger, shirtless Evans, from his days as a professional boxer.</p><p>Evans is a compact, energetic guy who is now fighting Dart for the sheriff&rsquo;s job in next month&rsquo;s primary. Like the other two challengers, Evans is pitching himself as a lawman -- a 23-year veteran of the Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s police, who now works the graveyard shift as a lieutenant.</p><p>Evans walked over to some uniformed Chicago cops patrolling the train station. They are members of a group he sees as a key potential support base, especially after nabbing the endorsement of Chicago&rsquo;s police union in January.</p><p>&ldquo;Hopefully you guys consider me,&rdquo; Evans told the officers. &ldquo;Spread it around a little bit. We gotta stick together.&rdquo;</p><p>Evans admits he feels a bit like a duck out of water having to campaign for a job in law enforcement.</p><p>And that is a unique thing about the sheriff&rsquo;s post. It&rsquo;s a law enforcement job that requires a politician&rsquo;s savvy to get. Dart was won his 2006 election comfortably, after serving as a top aide to his predecessor, Democrat Michael Sheahan. Dart was handily re-elected in 2010.</p><p>He now faces his most crowded primary in years. In addition to Evans, Dart is being challenged by longtime Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s police officer <a href="http://www.bakerforchange.com/Platform.html">Sylvester Baker</a>, the only African-American in the race; and <a href="http://palkaforsheriff2014.com/about-ted-palka/">Tadeusz &ldquo;Ted&rdquo; Palka</a>, a former deputy sheriff.</p><p>(Palka did not respond to an interview request from WBEZ.)</p><p>Dart&rsquo;s office runs a county jail long troubled with overcrowding, provides security for courtrooms, and patrols parts of the county.</p><p>But Dart has expanded the job description during his two terms in office. And candidates such as Evans say that raises questions about what the job should be, and what type of person is most suited to it: a politician or a cop.</p><p>&ldquo;We have a colossal mess in our county jail,&rdquo; Evans said. &ldquo;We have understaffing issues, we have, uh, supervision issues...and yet this sheriff wants to take on even more responsibilities that have nothing to do with his office.&rdquo;</p><p>For example, Evans and other candidates have criticized Dart&rsquo;s latest effort to to act as a corruption watchdog for some of Chicago&rsquo;s south suburbs, on top of his other duties.</p><p>And they suggest his much-publicized re-investigation of the John Wayne Gacy murders should have been a low priority for an office with so many responsibilities, even if it was a high-profile case.</p><p>But Dart defends those moves, saying he is tired of public officials who just do the bare minimum.</p><p>&ldquo;I looked as this as a mandate to get very involved with the criminal justice system, not just to sit here and say, &lsquo;Okay, here&rsquo;s your blanket, here&rsquo;s your bologna sandwich, there&rsquo;s your cell,&rsquo;&rdquo; Dart told WBEZ in a recent interview. &ldquo;Instead to look at it and say, &lsquo;Okay, well why are all these people flooding into the jail?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>So Dart says he focuses on treatment, not just lockup.</p><p>For example, he has started to connect prostitutes with social services. And after a federal court order, his office has added <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/dart-%E2%80%98we%E2%80%99re-criminalizing-mental-health%E2%80%99-102218">mental health services</a> for the large portion of inmates at the jail who self-identify as mentally ill.</p><p>Dart maintains his different approach to the job has not taken away from his other duties. But since taking office, there has been an uptick in how often sheriff&rsquo;s police lend help to other jurisdictions.</p><p>Between 2007 and 2011, the Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s Office assisted other agencies an average of 8,477 times a year, according to data provided by the sheriff. Between 2012 and 2013, the average jumped to 10,700.</p><p>His approach highlights what challenger Baker says is a problem with Dart: &ldquo;He&rsquo;s never been a law enforcement professional...I say that because...you have a different philosophy when you have never actually been in law enforcement.&rdquo;</p><p>Baker spent more than two decades as a Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s officer, and he wants a tighter focus on a county-wide policing strategy aimed at reducing crime.</p><p>But Dart&rsquo;s background might be good for Cook County, said John Maki, who heads a non-partisan prison watchdog group called The John Howard Association.</p><p>Even though Dart is not a cop, Maki says the sheriff has used his politicians&rsquo; instinct to bring media attention to some of the big problems facing the criminal justice system.</p><p>&ldquo;The thing that I&rsquo;ve been impressed with is how he&rsquo;s used his office to kinda shine light on problems that the jail are simply not equipped to deal with -- poverty, mental illness,&rdquo; Maki said.</p><p>But Maki pointed out that &nbsp;the Cook County Jail is still being watched by a federal monitor,in large part because of longstanding overcrowding. The jail for decades has been under the eyes of the feds, on grounds of violating inmates&rsquo; constitutional rights with unsanitary conditions and overcrowding.</p><p>The monitors say conditions have improved a lot under Dart.</p><p>But they say overcrowding is still a problem because public officials are not working together to solve it.</p><p>&ldquo;In the absence of a collaborative effort, and goodwill among stakeholders to address crowding, and related dysfunction in the courts, probation, and pretrial services, more time has passed, crowding has increased, and there is no solution in sight,&rdquo; wrote federal monitor Susan W. McCampbell in December.</p><p>Experts say this is emblematic of a larger challenge facing the Cook County sheriff. While he may control the workings of the jail, he has little control over how many people are arrested and detained, how much money goes into his budget, or how court records are kept.</p><p>Those fall under the purview of other elected officials, such as County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, with whom Dart has had public clashes.</p><p>He acknowledges he is sometimes impatient with the way his fellow public officers handle their jobs.</p><p>&ldquo;Do I not play well with others at times? That is correct,&rdquo; Dart said. &ldquo;But I usually feel pretty confident that&rsquo;s after I&rsquo;ve exhausted reasonable discussions with people and, when it&rsquo;s become clear to me that [they think] the issue is just &lsquo;too difficult to address, so it&rsquo;s just better if we just forget about it&rsquo; -- and I&rsquo;m not into forgetting about it.&rdquo;</p><p>Dart has not been campaigning much before the March 18 primary.</p><p>He has got way more money than his opponents -- and right now, he has no Republican challenger in the general election, though the GOP has the option to fill that vacant ballot slot after the primary.</p><p>Besides, Dart says, he just has too much stuff to do at the Sheriff&rsquo;s Office.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe">Alex Keefe</a> is a political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028">Google+</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 26 Feb 2014 18:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/views-differ-job-description-cook-sheriffs-race-109781 No more boot camp at Cook County Jail? http://www.wbez.org/news/no-more-boot-camp-cook-county-jail-109571 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cook County Jail Holding Cell.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Two Illinois state legislators are seeking to eliminate the boot camp at the Cook County Jail, but research has shown it&rsquo;s an effective program.&nbsp; That research, however, is 7 years old.</p><p>The push by Illinois Reps. Dennis Reboletti and Mike Zalewski to eliminate the boot camp comes in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times series showing judges have been improperly sentencing violent offenders to the boot camp.</p><p>Boot camp is a four-month program for offenders, based on military-style exercise and training followed by eight months of supervision with services like job training.</p><p>&ldquo;Having people statutorily ineligible was a problem,&rdquo; said Cara Smith, executive director of the Cook County Department of Corrections, &ldquo;but we&rsquo;ve addressed that.&rdquo;</p><p>Smith said the sheriff asked judges to take another look at people who had been sentenced to the boot camp, and people who should not have been there were weeded out.</p><p>&ldquo;Could any program be improved and modified?&nbsp; Yes,&rdquo; said David Olson, a criminologist at Loyola University Chicago. &ldquo;Are programs like boot camps completely useless?&nbsp; No.&rdquo;</p><p>Olson conducted a study of the boot camp in 2007 that found 28 percent of the boot camp graduates were rearrested within 8 months. That compares to a 49 percent rearrest rate for similar offenders who went to prison. Olson wonders, if you cut the boot camp and send those people to prison, &ldquo;Will the outcomes be better, or will we just have a better feeling in our gut that we&rsquo;re imposing a more punitive sanction?&rdquo;</p><p>The boot camp has also been criticized because one graduate, Bryon Champ, was involved in a shooting in a Chicago park last year in which 13 people were injured.&nbsp; Olson says yes, people have gone through the boot camp and then re-offended, but he says when people come out of prison and re-offend we don&rsquo;t talk about shutting down prisons.</p><p>John Maki with the prison watchdog John Howard Association points out that Olson&rsquo;s study is now 7 years old.&nbsp; Maki says if the boot camp is shown to still be effective it should be saved, but given the recent news stories there are real questions about how it&rsquo;s being run.</p><p>Cara Smith with the jail says they&rsquo;ve done a lot to reform the program.&nbsp; &ldquo;We&rsquo;re certainly not at the point where we think this program has to go,&rdquo; said Smith.</p><p>Rep. Zalewski said &ldquo;the recent anecdotal data is it&rsquo;s (the boot camp) not working.&rdquo;&nbsp; However Zalewski said the proposal to eliminate it will at least force a debate about its effectiveness.</p></p> Fri, 24 Jan 2014 15:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/no-more-boot-camp-cook-county-jail-109571 Preckwinkle goes after phone company that may have ripped off county http://www.wbez.org/news/preckwinkle-goes-after-phone-company-may-have-ripped-county-108826 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/400phone_0_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Securus Technologies has an exclusive contract to provide the phone service in Cook County Jail. Last year WBEZ reported the company was charging the mostly poor inmates at the jail as much as $15 for 15-minute phone calls.</p><p>Since then the county has renegotiated the contract, cutting the costs to inmates.&nbsp; In the process the county discovered Securus may have been withholding money. The company is supposed to pay 57 and a half percent of the phone revenues to the county. Lydia Murray works for Cook County Board President Preckwinkle and says Securus was levying extra charges on inmates and not giving the county its cut.</p><p>&ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t been getting these fees and we&rsquo;ll say that we&rsquo;re due them and they could be substantial,&rdquo; said Murray.</p><p>The county board is expected to vote on a $290,000 contract today to hire a Louisiana company named Praeses to audit the phone contract and to find places the county is owed money.</p><p>Securus didn&rsquo;t immediately return calls for comment.</p></p> Wed, 02 Oct 2013 12:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/preckwinkle-goes-after-phone-company-may-have-ripped-county-108826 Cook County inmates compete with Russian inmates in online chess match http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/cook-county-inmates-compete-russian-inmates-online-chess-match-107191 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Chess_130515_sh.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Inside the Cook County Jail law library, 10 men were hunched over laptops playing online chess. A live video of their competitors, all Russian inmates, was projected on the wall.</p><p>Correctional Officer Patrice Faulkner roamed the room, encouraging players to take their time. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m nervous, because this is a big deal,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The program is run by Mikhail Korenman, who met chess legend Anatoly Karpov last year. The two chess players, along with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, hatched the idea for this tournament, which, according to Dart, is the first of its kind.</p><p>It was a hard match. The U.S. team was entirely from Cook County, while Russia chose players from across the country&rsquo;s prison system.</p><p>Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said he had no delusions the match would solve current diplomatic issues between the U.S. and Russia. But he thought chess was a good activity for the men because it encouraged thinking ahead five or six moves, because you must consider the future impact of every action.</p><p>Warren Jackson, one of today&rsquo;s players, said he had seen that change in himself, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m more proactive than reactive now. So I do think chess plays a heavy game when it comes down to you making decisions.&rdquo;</p><p>In the end, Russia won. But Dalvin Brown, Chicago&rsquo;s star player, won both his games. Karpov complimented his skills and the Russians said they will be sending him a chessboard.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 15 May 2013 16:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/cook-county-inmates-compete-russian-inmates-online-chess-match-107191 In Cook County courts: Not guilty? Go to jail anyway http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-courts-not-guilty-go-jail-anyway-107018 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Calvin Marshall.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F90653857" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-62666845-6cb2-db21-3c03-c7275a4e565f" style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Cook County has a pretty curious way of dealing with people who are acquitted in court, people who are found not guilty. The county has a practice of violating their constitutional rights, and the practice goes back decades. That&#39;s what happened to a man named Calvin Marshall. &nbsp;You can hear what Marshall went through after he was found not guilty of murder by clicking on the audio above.</span></p></p> Mon, 06 May 2013 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-courts-not-guilty-go-jail-anyway-107018 Preckwinkle, Dart sound alarms on jail overcrowding http://www.wbez.org/news/preckwinkle-dart-sound-alarms-jail-overcrowding-106196 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS265_AP03041702306-cook county jail Ted S. Warren-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle Wednesday called on judges to release more people on electronic monitoring to help deal with overcrowding at Cook County Jail. According to Preckwinkle, as of Monday there were 10,008 people in the jail, which has a capacity of 10,150.</p><p dir="ltr">The jail population typically grows by a few thousand going into the summer, and Preckwinkle says allowing people accused of crimes to await trial from home could curb the problem.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a waste of public resources to put more money into jail beds,&rdquo; said Preckwinkle, noting that 70 percent of the people awaiting trial in Cook County are charged with nonviolent offenses.</p><p dir="ltr">Speaking on WBEZ&rsquo;s Afternoon Shift Wednesday, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart echoed the sentiment, noting that electronic monitoring costs about a fifth of the $150 a day it costs to house someone at the jail.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They&rsquo;re sitting in their house, they&rsquo;re feeding themselves, they&rsquo;re going back and forth to court dates by themselves, they&rsquo;re going to work, they&rsquo;re taking care of their families, all of the above, as opposed to sitting in jail where we&rsquo;re paying for everything,&rdquo; Dart said. &ldquo;My overtime budget is exploding right now.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Both Preckwinkle and Dart said they&rsquo;re not sure why the number of people on electronic monitoring has recently dropped, and Preckwinkle also called on the Sheriff himself to use his power to release people.</p><p dir="ltr">Dart said he&rsquo;s already doing everything he can, adding that bond hearing judges should be the ones taking action.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The only people I was not putting out [on electronic monitoring] were people that didn&rsquo;t have a house to go to,&rdquo; Dart said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no one that has a more vested interest in making sure that the electronic monitoring is a robust system than me.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But a statement by Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans hit the ball straight back into Dart&rsquo;s court, pointing to a federal court order that gives Dart the power to release people.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;According to Illinois law, the purpose of a bail hearing is for a judge to decide how best to ensure the return of the defendant to court and to protect public safety,&rdquo; Evans wrote. &ldquo;The purpose of a bail hearing is not to reduce the jail population.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Neither Dart nor Preckwinkle suggested what measures they will take if the jail population isn&rsquo;t somehow curbed by summer.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Historically the system just wouldn&rsquo;t handle it,&rdquo; Dart said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;d just start putting people on the floors, we&rsquo;d have three people in a two-person room, we&rsquo;d have the living units ... literally covered with mattresses all over the place.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Preckwinkle said overcrowding will be number one on the agenda at a meeting of public safety officials Friday.</p><p>Follow Lewis Wallace on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants">@LewisPants</a>.</p></p> Wed, 20 Mar 2013 17:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/preckwinkle-dart-sound-alarms-jail-overcrowding-106196 Dart: ‘We’re criminalizing mental health’ http://www.wbez.org/news/dart-%E2%80%98we%E2%80%99re-criminalizing-mental-health%E2%80%99-102218 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Dart2cropped.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says mentally ill jail inmates are overwhelming his staff. For now, though, he&rsquo;s not backing calls for Chicago to reopen six mental-health clinics it closed this spring.</p><p>At a Logan Square forum about the clinics Wednesday night, Dart said too many people with mental illnesses lacked professional care. &ldquo;When we don&rsquo;t fund services properly, they end up in my jail,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&ldquo;What we are, in fact, doing is criminalizing mental health,&rdquo; Dart said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s what we&rsquo;re doing.&rdquo;</p><p>The audience, packed into a church near one of the shuttered clinics, burst into applause.</p><p>The forum&rsquo;s organizers handed out a press release that said Dart supported their calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration to reopen and fully staff the clinics.</p><p>Later, however, Dart told WBEZ he wasn&rsquo;t making any demands.</p><p>&ldquo;What I want is a thorough plan that we&rsquo;re going to be advocating for,&rdquo; Dart said. &ldquo;Could it involve more clinics? Could be. Could it involve more state money being funded for specific services? Could be. Literally nothing is off the table.&rdquo;</p><p>Dart said his office would come up with that plan by year&rsquo;s end.</p></p> Wed, 05 Sep 2012 23:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/dart-%E2%80%98we%E2%80%99re-criminalizing-mental-health%E2%80%99-102218 NATO terrorism defendants kept in ‘observation’ cells http://www.wbez.org/news/nato-terrorism-defendants-kept-%E2%80%98observation%E2%80%99-cells-99442 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS5837_AP120519150342-scr_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says three anti-NATO protesters accused of planning terrorist actions have been held around-the-clock since Saturday in white-walled &ldquo;observation&rdquo; cells, where they are isolated from each other and the rest of the inmate population and kept from writing materials, books and all other media.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s for their own safety and the safety of the [jail] staff and other inmates,&rdquo; the spokesman, Frank Bilecki, said Tuesday afternoon. &ldquo;Obviously we&rsquo;re concerned about their mental status and well-being.&rdquo;</p><p>A medical staff member checks on the three every 15 minutes, Bilecki said. The cells each have one window through which natural light passes and a larger window for the observation, he added.</p><p>Gary Hickerson, acting executive director of the office&rsquo;s Department of Corrections, ordered the observation because the defendants are young and because their charges are serious, Bilecki said. The decision had nothing to do with defendants&rsquo; behavior since arrest, he added.</p><p>The sheriff&rsquo;s spokesman says the State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s office had no input into the protesters&rsquo; jail conditions.</p><p>But a lawyer for one of the alleged terrorists says the conditions amount to &ldquo;sensory deprivation&rdquo; intended to hamper their defense. &ldquo;This is a way to break someone&rsquo;s spirit and break their ability to cooperate with their attorneys,&rdquo; said the lawyer, Michael Deutsch, who represents Brian Church, 20, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.</p><p>Deutsch complained about the conditions in a court hearing about the case Tuesday afternoon. Defense attorneys said they were &ldquo;negotiating&rdquo; with jail staff members to improve the conditions.</p><p>Those talks may be paying off. Bilecki said the jail was planning to move the three protesters Tuesday evening into the general inmate population.</p><p>Church and the other protesters &mdash; Jared Chase, 27, of Keene, N.H; and Brent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla. &mdash; face charges of terrorism conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and possession of explosives or incendiary devices. Cook County Judge Edward S. Harmening on Saturday set their bonds at $1.5 million each.</p><p>Authorities accused the trio of possessing Molotov cocktails and planning or proposing attacks on targets including President Barack Obama&rsquo;s campaign headquarters and Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s home. The three were among nine people arrested during a police raid last Wednesday at the South Side apartment of some Occupy Chicago leaders who helped organize protests against the NATO summit.</p><p>Church, Chase and Betterly appeared at Tuesday&rsquo;s hearing in tan jail uniforms but did not speak. Judge Adam D. Bourgeois Jr. granted a request by prosecutors to continue the case until June 12.</p><p>At least two other anti-NATO protesters arrested last week face serious felony charges. Sebastian Senakiewicz, 24, of Chicago is charged with falsely making a terrorist threat. Mark Neiweem, 28, of Chicago is charged with solicitation for explosives or incendiary devices. A judge on Sunday set their bonds at $750,000 and $500,000, respectively.</p><p>Senakiewicz and Neiweem are scheduled for a status hearing Wednesday.</p></p> Tue, 22 May 2012 15:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/nato-terrorism-defendants-kept-%E2%80%98observation%E2%80%99-cells-99442