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More Violations at Cook County Jail

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A federal judge has ruled that Cook County jail violates the rights of inmates when officers conduct strip searches of defendants who have been found not guilty.

When defendants being held at Cook County Jail go to trial and win, they don’t get to just walk out of the courthouse, they have to go back to the jail and then they’re let out. But that process includes a strip search in which they have to squat down and cough and they have to do it lined against a wall in a hallway full of other naked prisoners. In 2007, Sheriff Tom Dart got screens to give each prisoner privacy but attorney Tom Morrissey says that not enough.

MORRISSEY: Under the fourth amendment, it’s still an unreasonable search even if they’re doing it in private because these people have been ordered to be released by the court. To continue to treat them as inmates is unreasonable.

A federal judge has sided with Morrissey and ruled the practice unconstitutional. Morrissey now plans to seek damages on behalf of all the innocent defendants who have had to endure the searches from 2002 to the present.

I’m Robert Wildeboer, Chicago Public Radio.

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