WBEZ | inmates http://www.wbez.org/tags/inmates Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Judge: Class-action status allowed in deaf inmates' lawsuit http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-class-action-status-allowed-deaf-inmates-lawsuit-113295 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/3432142598_af2fc1de61_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>A federal judge has granted class-action status to a lawsuit brought by deaf inmates alleging the Illinois Department of Corrections violates their civil rights.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The complaint, first filed in 2011, claims deaf and partially deaf prisoners have limited access to sign language interpreters, hearing aids and other accommodations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Attorneys say the result is exclusion because the prisoners can&#39;t communicate. That means effectively missing religious services, court-mandated classes, medical visits and in some cases, emergency evacuations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, asking for system-wide changes like requiring hearing tests when inmates are first incarcerated.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Both sides had been negotiating an agreement, but an attorney says that failed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson declined to comment Monday. The judge granted class-action status last week. Both sides are due in court in December.</div></p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 13:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-class-action-status-allowed-deaf-inmates-lawsuit-113295 New York prison inmates trounce Harvard debate team http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-09/new-york-prison-inmates-trounce-harvard-debate-team-113267 <p><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Inmates%20in%20Bard%20College%E2%80%99s%20Prison%20Initiative%20beat%20Harvard%E2%80%99s%20prestigious%20debate%20team%20in%20front%20of%20a%20panel%20of%20national%20college%20debate%20judges.jpg" title="Inmates in Bard College’s Prison Initiative beat Harvard’s prestigious debate team in front of a panel of national college debate judges. (Jared Ames/Here and Now)" /></div><div><p>It sounds like a storyline out of Hollywood. A group of convicted inmates from the Eastern New York Correctional Facility, all of them participants in Bard College&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://bpi.bard.edu/" target="_blank">Prison Initiative</a>, challenge Harvard University&rsquo;s national championship-winning debate team.&nbsp;The inmates, who research without the Internet (because it&rsquo;s not allowed), and wait weeks for the books they need to be cleared by security, win.</p><p>But it&rsquo;s not a movie.&nbsp;It&rsquo;s what happened in mid-September on a prison stage in front of more than 150 spectators and a panel of national college debate judges.</p><p>Max Kenner&nbsp;is executive director of Bard College&rsquo;s Prison Initiative, which has granted more than 300 undergraduate degrees over the last 13 years. He joins&nbsp;Here &amp; Now&lsquo;s&nbsp;Robin Young&nbsp;to&nbsp;discuss his students and the issues surrounding the country&rsquo;s inmate education initiatives.</p><hr /><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Interview Highlights</strong></span></p><p><strong>Where does debating fit into the inmates&rsquo; education?</strong></p><div id="attachment_94039"><p>&ldquo;With respect to where debate fits into the curriculum of an undergraduate program, a student is forced to master arguments that don&rsquo;t come naturally to her or to him. When one has to go through that exercise of articulating an argument that you may not respect or may not have thought through, you&rsquo;re forced to honor the argument, honor another person&rsquo;s perspective, and I think become more empathetic.&nbsp;I think that&rsquo;s something that all students could benefit from.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1009_class-bayview.jpg" title="Students in Bard College’s Prison Initiative are pictured at Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan, a women’s prison that has since closed. (Peter Mauney/Here and Now)" /></div></div><p><strong>On the&nbsp;surprise when the Bard students won</strong></p><p>&ldquo;If there&rsquo;s any problem we have in education, particularly higher education, it follows from the catastrophically low expectations we have of people. So many of our undergraduates at the best colleges and universities in U.S. aren&rsquo;t surprised to be there &ndash; their parents went there, their grandparents went there, and they&rsquo;re going through the motions. Throughout American history there have always been pockets of people, think of the immigrant experience, think of the extraordinary accomplishments of the freed people in the generation after the emancipation from slavery, all these people in American history value education more and achieve more. I believe, in the U.S. today, the incarcerated population represents one of these groups.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Why should prisoners have this opportunity?</strong></p><p>&ldquo;I think trivializing or being flippant about how difficult life is for incarcerated people in the U.S. and how extreme the punishment is, is not responsible. It&rsquo;s something people do in the media and in all walks of American life all the time. And the idea that if we give people the opportunity to improve themselves, to be better parents, to be less likely to commit crimes in the future, and to be contributing members of society, we&rsquo;ll all do better. I&rsquo;ll be completely honest, I&rsquo;m not in the business of criminal punishment, and I&rsquo;m not in the business of making the kind of moral generalizations you&rsquo;re asking of me. I am in the business of education, and when I look at the U.S., I see a society with the crisis of college access, and I cannot face the question you&rsquo;re asking, when you say we finally found something that works, is inexpensive, and gets results that otherwise seem impossible. When we find something that works, the policy is to shut it down rather than replicate it? I think it&rsquo;s precisely the wrong question to ask.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1009_woodbourne-library.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" title="Students in Bard College’s Prison Initiative are pictured at Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Woodbourne, New York. (China Jorrin)" /></div><p><strong>What about people&nbsp;asking why convicted criminals are getting these benefits?</strong></p><div id="attachment_94038"><p>&ldquo;I would say that violence in American society is something we have to take absolutely seriously. But there&rsquo;s a point at which responding with something other than violence might be more effective. We can go through all the typical boring arguments about crime and punishment, personal responsibility, and the terrible racial problems bequeathed to us, or we can look at the problems and say we&rsquo;re going to try to actually solve the problems and do it in a way that treats one another respectfully and with dignity and with hope for a better future. Punishment alone will not get us there.&rdquo;</p></div><p><strong>What does it mean to the Bard Prison Initiative&nbsp;that your students&nbsp;won?</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Obviously it was exciting. There was an audience of about 100 other incarcerated Bard students. We&rsquo;ve done this a number of times and we&rsquo;ve debated West Point Academy and the University of Vermont, and done very well. And we think the college we have at Eastern Correction Facility, the college we have across prisons in the state of New York, are among the best learning colleges of any in the U.S., because of the dedication and real persistent hard work our students put in and the curiosity they have. We&rsquo;ve won a handful of debates before, and we did so well we thought it was really important that we try to take on the best team in the country, so we reached out to them, not as an act of charity, but to compete with other undergraduates that have the same interest and curiosity that you do.&rdquo;</p></div><p>&mdash;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/10/09/inmates-trounce-harvard-debate-team" target="_blank"><em> via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 13:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-09/new-york-prison-inmates-trounce-harvard-debate-team-113267 Judge: Indiana not improving mental health services for prisoners http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-indiana-not-improving-mental-health-services-prisoners-107853 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Indiana Prisons ACLU&#039;s Ken Falk.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A federal judge in Indianapolis wants to know why a court order from six months ago is being ignored.</p><p>In an order issued last December, U.S. District Court Judge Tonya Walton found the Indiana Department of Corrections&rsquo; treatment for 6,000 mentally ill inmates was inadequate and ordered more to be done.</p><p>But so far, that hasn&rsquo;t happened.</p><p>A status hearing scheduled for Wednesday in Indianapolis aims to learn more.</p><p>Kenneth Falk, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, says his group filed the original complaint against the IDOC in 2009.</p><p>&ldquo;This lawsuit was filed some time ago,&rdquo; Falk told WBEZ on Tuesday. &ldquo;It was based on the recognition and continued complaints from prisoners about what we viewed as serious neglect of their mental health needs while being in segregated environments that make their mental health needs even greater and their mental illnesses even worse,&rdquo; Falk told WBEZ on Tuesday.</p><p>The ACLU says in court documents that the plans the prison agency has filed have been impressive, but little has been done to make the improvements happen.</p><p>Joshua Sprunger works with Indiana&rsquo;s mental ill prison population. He thinks Indiana has yet to act because of money issues.</p><p>&ldquo;We have a system in Indiana that was designed for public safety, not for treatment and support for those living with serious mental illness,&rdquo; Sprunger said. &ldquo;The Indiana Department has been working on but has a long way to go in terms of the treatment and support that they can provide to folks inside. They are constrained by resources so we have been advocating with our state legislature and governor&#39;s administration to make sure the Department of Corrections has what it needs to carry that out.&rdquo;</p><p>Moreover, Sprunger said, is that many mentally ill inmates shouldn&rsquo;t be in jail or prison in the first place.</p><p>&ldquo;We really need to get some of these folks into treatment rather than into incarceration in the first place and that&rsquo;s the key,&rdquo; Sprunger said.</p><p>Sprunger says his group is not a party to the lawsuit but does work with both the ACLU and IDOC.</p><p>&ldquo;Our position is that state agencies need to be more creative, more collaborative and need to be fully-funded to develop better systems,&rdquo; Sprunger said. &ldquo;There are champions in the Indiana Department of Corrections that know where kind of where things need to be headed but they need to be empowered to make those decisions.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana reporter Michael Puente on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" target="_blank">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 26 Jun 2013 10:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-indiana-not-improving-mental-health-services-prisoners-107853 In Cook County, the costs of catching a case http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-costs-catching-case-97233 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-13/Phone at Cook County Jail (WBEZ Wildeboer).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County government is making money off people who are locked up in the county jail. It sounds conspiratorial, but it’s true. People who are arrested pay substantial fees to support the system that is detaining and prosecuting them. And even if they’re found not guilty, they don’t get any of that money back. This week we’re starting a series we’re calling “The Costs of Catching a Case” that looks at the millions of dollars Cook County makes each year by putting people in jail.</p><div><p>We start with a young man named Marvin Gresham Jr. He was arrested in December, a few days after he turned 17. He’d been arrested before, but he’d always gone to juvenile facilities. This was his first time in county, so when he called his dad, Marvin Sr. put up the $15 it takes to accept the collect call.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-13/Marvin%20Gresham%20Sr.%20in%20his%20kitchen%20%28WBEZ%20Wildeboer%29.JPG" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 300px;" title="Marvin Gresham Sr. sitting in the kitchen of the apartment he and his wife rent (WBEZ/Rob Wildeboer)">"He was afraid.&nbsp; He was very afraid," says Gresham. Gresham grew up in Englewood, and when he was 18 he spent about a year in county jail himself. He says "it’s important to the inmate, the person that’s locked up that he knows, that he or she knows that somebody cares, you know, about them.&nbsp; Being in jail is like being dead."</p><p>Now, sitting at his kitchen table flipping through his bank statement from the last month, Gresham is seeing what it cost him to be there for his son, to accept all those phone calls at $15 apiece, paid up front or else the call doesn’t go through. "It’s just a rip off.&nbsp; The calls are being done to people that live in the ghetto.&nbsp; These calls, are, they not right," he says despondently.</p><p>Gresham has a little trouble going through his bank statement. He never finished high school and he seems to have some difficulty reading. Gresham does contracting work when he can get it. He’s fixed up the apartment he and his fiancé are renting. They put in new flooring, some new carpet, refinished the kitchen cabinets so they’re shiny and put in a new counter. His fiancé works the evening shift at the McDonalds at the skyway oasis, near one of the tollbooths. They’re barely getting by. We look at his account balance from the beginning of the month. "We had a little money in the bank, you know, at the time, just a little, I think it was $330 and they took $120 dollars of that from us.&nbsp; It was $330 and this is our main bank account, the only one we have.&nbsp; We have nothing more," says Gresham.</p><p>The bank statement shows 8 charges for phone calls at $14.99 apiece. A third of Gresham and his fiance’s net worth was spent on those phone calls, and that’s from just one month. "Fifteen dollars is a lot.&nbsp; It buys a meal in my house and it helps to pay the light bill, the gas bill and everything else.&nbsp; It’s just a loss, a loss that we didn’t need."</p><p>Gresham could have reduced his phone charges if he’d set up an account with the company that runs the phones in the jail during the two months his son was there. The calls would have dropped to about $7 each, but whether it’s $7 or $15 for 15 minutes, the question remains the same: Why are the calls so expensive?</p><p>For starters, Cook County makes money on each call and not just a little money. Using the Freedom of Information Act I got a copy of the contract between the county and Securus Technologies, the company that operates the jail phone service. The contract requires Securus to pay 57.5 percent of the revenue from phone calls back to the county. Last year that netted the county government more than $3.6 million. In the last three years under this contract the county has pulled in about $12 million &nbsp;from inmates making calls out of the county jail, according to numbers supplied by the county. It’s like the ultimate command economy. The county locks up the inmate. In order to communicate with family and arrange their defense, the inmate has to use the phones. Cook County has given an exclusive contract to Securus, which sets the phone rates and prohibits any competition, and then the county gets more than half of the revenue generated.</p><p>Howard Brookins is a Chicago alderman, but he’s also an attorney and he says he still handles about 20 cases a year. I ran into him at the courthouse when I was there talking to families about the rates they’re paying. "It just doesn’t seem as though you should be rippin’ those folks off.&nbsp; Yes it may cost a little more than a regular collect call that you may make today, but it should not cost that much more because quite frankly, phone calls are cheap.&nbsp; And anybody with a cellular phone and unlimited minutes knows that it doesn’t cost $15 for 15 minutes or a dollar a minute to make a phone call," says Brookins.</p><p>Brookins says he ran for state’s attorney a few years ago to address these kinds of inequities. He says inmates can be charged all sorts of fees because the public doesn’t have much sympathy for those who commit crimes. But there's a dirty secret, he says. "Their bills are paid by mothers and grandmothers, and it’s a tremendous burden on them with the number of phone calls also that they receive from their particular loved one because, again, they’re there with nothing else to do."</p><p>Brookins points out that most of the people in jail waiting to go to trial are poor. If they weren’t, they would have posted bond and gotten out of there. Of course there are people who have really high bonds because they’re accused of extremely serious crimes but most of the people have low bonds, and Brookins says if they don’t have money for bond, they don’t have money for pricey phone calls either. But he says, politically, it’s easy to levy charges against people accused of crimes. "When you say this, people think I’m nuts.&nbsp; People think that, oh these black guys or these black politicians, they’re just coddling to criminals and they don’t see the other side of the issue or the story about them being pre-trial detainees.&nbsp; They don’t see the grandmothers out there struggling, what bills should they pay. ‘Should I pay my taxes or should I accept this phone call?’" says Brookins.</p><p>Brookins says he’s seen his constituents struggling to cobble together money for legal bills and fees, having bake sales and fundraisers and asking the pastor for help.</p><p>And he articulates something I hear a lot too, and that is that people in African American communities think they’re being locked up so that someone somewhere can turn a profit. I didn’t believe the county made money off the phones until I had the contract in my hand. But everyone who’s done time in county jail just knows the county’s making money off those calls. It’s a short jump from there to the false conclusion that the county incarcerates people simply to make money. Brookins doesn’t think that cynicism comes out of nowhere. He points out that local politicians always fight against closing prisons in their districts because of money, because of the jobs prisons provide. And he says those same politicians pass mandatory minimum sentences that ensure convicts spend a long time in prison and that helps to keep the prisons full. "It can only be said that a lot of what goes on there is not about rehabilitation, it’s not about stopping the behavior, but it’s about money," says Brookins.</p><p>On Thursday we'll take another look at how profiting from incarceration undermines the credibility of the whole criminal justice system, but on Wednesday we’re going to zero in on just one part of that: on the county’s phone contract with Securus Technologies.</p><p>We’ll see what county officials have to say about it and we’ll ask why Securus charges $15 for some of the phone calls made from jail.</p></div></p> Tue, 13 Mar 2012 02:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-costs-catching-case-97233 County commissioner pulls bill to free inmates wanted by ICE http://www.wbez.org/story/county-commissioner-pulls-bill-free-inmates-wanted-ice-89730 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-27/Garcia.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Legislation that would have required Cook County to free some jail inmates wanted by immigration authorities is dead for now.<br> <br> Commissioner Jesús García, D-Chicago, withdrew his bill at Wednesday’s County Board meeting. “We want to rethink it,” he said afterwards.<br> <br> The measure would have made the county the nation’s largest jurisdiction to end blanket compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers. Those are requests by the federal agency for local jails to keep some inmates 48 hours beyond what their criminal cases require.<br> <br> García’s bill would have ended the county’s compliance unless the inmate had been convicted of a felony or two misdemeanors and unless the county got reimbursed.<br> <br> Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she would back releasing some inmates wanted by ICE but wants to hear from State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. “We hope to have a written opinion from the state’s attorney that will allow us to proceed,” she said after the board meeting.<br> <br> A letter from Alvarez to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office back in 2009 said the jail “must comply with any ICE detainers.”<br> <br> But ICE officials in recent months have said there is no legal requirement for jails to comply. Dart told WBEZ this month he planned to ask Alvarez for an updated opinion.<br> <br> Alvarez’s office hasn’t answered WBEZ’s questions about whether she will revisit that opinion.</p></p> Wed, 27 Jul 2011 21:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/county-commissioner-pulls-bill-free-inmates-wanted-ice-89730 Bill would free Cook County inmates wanted by ICE http://www.wbez.org/story/bill-would-free-cook-county-inmates-wanted-ice-89634 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-26/cook-County-Jail-2_Flickr_Zol87.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Cook County commissioner is quietly proposing an ordinance that would require the county’s massive jail to release some inmates wanted by immigration authorities.</p><p>Sponsored by Jesús García, D-Chicago, the measure would prohibit the jail from holding inmates based on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement request unless they have been convicted of a felony or two misdemeanors, and unless the county gets reimbursed.</p><p>The legislation’s preamble says complying with the ICE requests, known as detainers, “places a great strain on our communities by eroding the public trust that local law enforcement depends on to secure the accurate reporting of criminal activity and to prevent and solve crimes.”</p><p>The jail now holds detainees requested by ICE for up to 48 hours after their criminal cases would allow them to walk free. Sheriff Tom Dart’s office says the jail turns over about a half dozen inmates to the federal agency each business day.</p><p>Dart this month <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233">told WBEZ his staff was exploring legal options</a> for releasing some of these inmates. The sheriff said his review began after he noticed that San Francisco County Sheriff Michael Hennessey had ordered his department to quit honoring certain ICE detainers beginning June 1.</p><p>If Dart’s office follows Hennessey’s path or if García’s legislation wins approval, Cook County could become the nation’s largest local jurisdiction to halt blanket compliance with ICE holds.</p><p>“Cook County would be a counter pole to Arizona’s Maricopa County,” says Chris Newman, general counsel of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, a Los Angeles-based group that opposes involving local authorities in immigration enforcement.</p><p>García’s office didn’t return WBEZ calls or messages about his legislation. The offices of Sheriff Dart and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said they had seen the bill but declined to say whether they supported it.</p><p>A spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said late Tuesday her office had not been consulted about García’s proposal. A 2009 letter from Alvarez to Dart’s office said federal law required the sheriff to comply with “any ICE detainers.”</p><p>In recent months, however, immigration authorities have acknowledged that local jails do not have to comply with the detainers.</p><p>ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa, asked for comment about García’s legislation, sent a statement calling the detainers “critical” for deporting “criminal aliens and others who have no legal right to remain in the United States.”</p><p>“Individuals arrested for misdemeanors may ultimately be identified as recidivist offenders with multiple prior arrests, in addition to being in violation of U.S. immigration law,” the ICE statement said. “These individuals may have been deported before or have outstanding orders of removal.” Jurisdictions that ignore immigration detainers would be responsible for “possible public safety risks,” the statement added.</p><p>García’s proposal is on the county board’s agenda for Wednesday morning. Possible steps by commissioners include referring the measure to committee or approving it immediately.</p></p> Tue, 26 Jul 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/bill-would-free-cook-county-inmates-wanted-ice-89634 Dart slammed for mulling release of inmates wanted by ICE http://www.wbez.org/story/dart-slammed-mulling-release-inmates-wanted-ice-89317 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-18/Dart-Craigslist-M-Spencer-JPG.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Supporters of tougher immigration enforcement are criticizing Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart for seeking legal options enabling the county’s massive jail to quit holding some inmates wanted for immigration violations.<br> <br> Dart <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233">told WBEZ</a> last week his department was looking for a way to end its blanket compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests that detainees be held 48 hours beyond what their local criminal cases require. The holds, financed by the county, help ICE take custody and begin deportation proceedings. Dart says the jail’s role erodes community trust in local law enforcement, discouraging witnesses and even victims from cooperating with police.<br> <br> Ira Mehlman, spokesman of a Washington-based pro-enforcement group called the Federation for American Immigration Reform, is not convinced. “This idea that turning people over to immigration authorities — who have already been picked up on suspicion of some crime — is somehow going to cause this massive chill just doesn’t hold water,” says Mehlman, who accuses Dart of “putting politics ahead of community safety.”<br> <br> The WBEZ report has also led to a torrent of comments on the station’s Web site. The visitors have labeled Dart everything from a “fool” to a “traitor.”<br> <br> But Dart’s review is also winning praise. “Sheriffs throughout the country are revisiting their policies with respect to the ICE holds,” says Fred Tsao, policy director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “The criminal justice system already distinguishes between people who can be released with no threat to public safety and those who cannot.”<br> <br> San Francisco County Sheriff Michael Hennessey on June 1 <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/San_Francisco_policy_on_ICE_detainers.pdf">quit honoring</a> ICE requests for holds of inmates arrested for certain traffic infractions and other low-level offenses if a background check finds no felony convictions and meets other requirements. Since then, his department has released four inmates with ICE detainers, according to Eileen Hirst, the sheriff’s chief of staff.<br> <br> ICE officials acknowledge that local jails have no legal requirement to comply with the detainer requests.</p></p> Mon, 18 Jul 2011 18:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/dart-slammed-mulling-release-inmates-wanted-ice-89317 Sheriff mulls freeing inmates wanted on immigration charges http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20090908_tarnold_9361_Sher_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>On any given day, the Cook County Jail holds hundreds of inmates picked up on criminal charges who also happen to be wanted for an immigration violation. Sheriff Tom Dart’s office keeps them up to 48 hours beyond when the criminal cases would allow them out. That’s to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency known as ICE, to take them into deportation proceedings. Now Dart tells WBEZ he’s reconsidering that policy because it could be compromising public safety. We report from our West Side bureau.</p><p><br> SOUND: Keys open a jail door.<br> <br> Beneath the Cook County criminal courthouse, one jailer pulls out keys and unlocks a door. Another, Officer Carmelo Santiago, leads the way.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: We’re going through this tunnel that connects us from the courthouse to the jail. This way is where the detainee is going to be coming.<br> <br> We step around crusts of sandwiches that the day’s new arrivals got for lunch.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: And this is the receiving process.<br> <br> SOUND: Entering the receiving area.<br> <br> The smell of unwashed feet wafts from chain-link pens full of inmates who’re waiting to be processed. Santiago shows me the paperwork of a Mexican national busted last night in Chicago.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: This individual was arrested for driving on a revoked or suspended license on a DUI.<br> <br> A lot of immigrants who drink and drive end up in this jail. That’s because Illinois considers DUI a felony when the motorist lacks a valid driver’s license. And the state doesn’t allow any undocumented immigrant to get one.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: He was issued a bond from the court for $15,000.<br> <br> Santiago points out that the defendant could walk free for just $1,500. Except, his file shows something else.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: This specific individual has a detainer that was placed on him through immigration.<br> <br> MITCHELL: This man can post bond or not [and] he’s going to end up in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement?<br> <br> SANTIAGO: That is correct.<br> <br> Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says he doesn’t like holding on to inmates like this one for ICE to take away. He says these holds make it harder for local police to fight crime. Residents see cops and start thinking about the threat of deportation — the threat to the criminals, maybe even to themselves.<br> <br> DART: It does not lend itself to a sense of community where people will gladly come to you with information about crimes, get involved as a witness, even come forward as a victim, frankly.<br> <br> Over the years Dart has taken steps to reduce the jail’s role in immigration enforcement. The sheriff’s office says it no longer calls ICE with information about inmates. The sheriff no longer allows ICE agents in holding cells near bond courtrooms. The jail has put up big signs — in English, Spanish and Polish — that tell new inmates they have no obligation to answer questions about immigration status. But Dart says something has him in a bind. Every day ICE requests that the jail hold certain inmates two extra days so the agency can put the detainees into deportation proceedings. The jail ends up turning over about a half-dozen inmates to ICE each day. Two years ago, Dart quietly sought some legal advice from Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office.<br> <br> DART: The opinion was really unambiguous. It said I had to comply with the detainer. So, when the detainer was placed on somebody, I had to give the ICE officers 48 hours to come and pick somebody up and that it was not in my discretion.<br> <br> MITCHELL: Could you ignore the state’s attorney’s opinion?<br> <br> DART: Then I open myself up personally to civil liability.<br> <br> Dart says that could include damages for someone hurt by a released inmate or the legal defense if an anti-immigrant group filed suit . . .<br> <br> DART: . . . which is not something that myself or my five children signed up to do. And I open our office up to unbelievable amounts of liability.<br> <br> But some immigrant advocates are pressing Dart about the ICE detainers. They confronted a few of his top aides at a meeting a few weeks ago. Reverend Walter Coleman got to question a sheriff’s attorney, Patricia Horne.<br> <br> HORNE: It’s a legal document just like an arrest warrant, which we, under law, have to recognize.<br> <br> COLEMAN: Under what law?<br> <br> HORNE: Well, in this case, under federal law.<br> <br> COLEMAN: There is no federal law. You cannot cite me the statute or the chapter or the section. You know that that’s the truth and we will not sit here and be lied to like this.<br> <br> It turns out ICE isn’t citing a statute either. Lately federal officials have acknowledged that local jails don’t have to comply with immigration detainer requests. Last month the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Department quit honoring the requests for certain inmates. Here in Cook County, Sheriff Dart says that’s got him wondering again whether he has to comply with the 48-hour holds. He tells me he’s planning to ask the State’s Attorney’s Office for an updated opinion. He could do that quietly again and most people wouldn’t even know. But Dart doesn’t always operate quietly. You might remember that, twice over the last three years, the sheriff has ordered his deputies to suspend enforcement of foreclosure evictions.<br> <br> MITCHELL: You run one of the country’s biggest jails. Would you really be willing to become a national lightening rod on the issue of immigration enforcement?<br> <br> DART: Well, there is this notion of justice that we’ve always felt very strongly about in this office. And whether it’s dealing with people who we felt were being dispossessed of their houses in the mortgage crisis. So we stopped. It’s the same issue here, where we are attempting to do what is right and just.<br> <br> But Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Greg Palmore has a warning for any sheriff who lets inmates walk free despite an immigration hold.<br> <br> PALMORE: Though ICE has not sought to compel compliance through legal proceedings, jurisdictions who ignore detainers bear the risk of allowing that individual back into the public domain before they were thoroughly vetted to insure that this individual doesn’t have anything outstanding that warrants us to move further in that particular case.<br> <br> Sheriff Dart acknowledges there could be a downside to ignoring immigration detainer requests. Let’s say ICE knows the inmate arrived in the country under an alias or is violent — and the information didn’t appear in the jail’s background check. But Dart says letting some immigrants out of jail even though ICE wants them could be worth the risk. It might help remove the deportation issue from everyday policing. The sheriff says that could make streets in Cook County safer.</p></p> Fri, 15 Jul 2011 23:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233 Former Cook County Jail inmates lining up for cash http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-jail/former-cook-county-jail-inmates-lining-cash <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//cityroom_20100513_tarnold_1430841_Hiri_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Thousands of people who were locked up in the Cook County Jail are lining up to get some cash. Cook County recently agreed to pay $55 million to inmates who were subjected to mass strip searches at the jail. Men were routinely forced to stand naked together in a hallway for the procedure which included cavity searches. A jury found the county liable for the practice.</p><p>Most people who were held in the prison between 2004 and 2009 are eligable for some cash. Mike Kanovitz sued on behalf of the inmates. He said notices of the settlement have been sent out to more than 200,000 people.</p><p>&quot;The response has been fantastic,&quot;&nbsp;Kanovitz said. &quot; I know that the claims administrator in one day received something like 40 thousand pieces of mail.&quot;</p><p>Kanovitz said the individuals may get up to $1,000 each but more money may be coming. He said some of the companies that insure the county have refused to pay. He said he's still suing them and hoping to get even more than the $55 million that the county is already shelling out.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 28 Dec 2010 12:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-jail/former-cook-county-jail-inmates-lining-cash Cook County to pay $55 million to inmates at county jail http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-pay-55-million-jail-inmates <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Dart.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County is paying out $55 million to people who were strip searched while being processed into the county jail.&nbsp;</p><p>The settlement follows a trial from the summer of 2009 in which a jury found that the Cook County Sheriff's department violated the rights of thousands of prisoners admitted to the jail. The department had a practice of strip searching all incoming inmates, and those searches took place in an open hallway, filled with men standing naked, shoulder to shoulder. Cavity searches were also performed on all the men in that same crowded hallway.<br> <br> The $55 million settlement will be split among 250,000 prisoners subjected to the searches between 2004 and 2009. In a written statement Sheriff Tom Dart said, "<font>The vast majority of this money will go to the lawyers and not the detainees. In fact, the amount each detainee could actually see is very small – in most cases, just a few hundred bucks – compared to the millions and millions of taxpayer dollars that will be reaped by these lawyers." </font></p><p>Dart also said that over the last two years they've installed body scanners which largely eliminate the need for strip searches so that they're done only when the scanners raise a concern.<br> <br> The Cook County State's attorneys office was not immediately available for comment.</p></p> Tue, 16 Nov 2010 21:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-pay-55-million-jail-inmates