The Cook County Jail in Chicago is the largest single-site jail in the country. 100,000 people are admitted to the jail each year. Like other large county jails, it too operates in direct violation of state law and the US Constitution; with everything from inmates sleeping on the floor to sleeping inmates being injured by swarms of rats- and even unnecessary amputations. A bunch of inmates were also each awarded $200 settlement payments after suffering penis injuries from improperly performed STD tests.
The building itself is dilapidated, in violation of almost every applicable building code or safety regulation. After a 2007 inspection it required over 40,000 seperate work orders.
Undertrained guards, despite their brutality, have trouble actually doing their jobs there- one inmate was able to not only get a loaded pistol into the jail but from there into the courtroom simply by tucking it in to the waistband of his boxers.
DOJ found that the 8th Amendment civil rights of the inmates have been extensively and systematically violated.
Specific violations that have resulted in federal sanctions include:
1. Systematic beatings by jail guards.
2. Poor food quality.
3. Inmates forced to sleep on cell floors due to overcrowding and mismanagement (resulting in a $1,000 per inmate class action settlement).
4. Rodent infestation and injury caused to sleeping inmates by rat and mouse bites.
5. Violations of privacy during multiple invasive strip searches.
6. Failure to provide adequate medical care, including failure to dispense medications.
7. Invasive and painful mandatory tests for male STD’s (resulting in a $200 per inmate class action settlement).
8. Unnecessarily long waiting time for discharge upon payment of bond, completion of sentence, or charges being dropped. Wait times are currently routinely in excess of 8 hours, nearly all of which is spent with many inmates packed into tiny cells.
Not only to they routinely fail to provide psychiatric drugs to those inmate who need them, they also forcibly inject other inmates (who DON’T need them) with unusually high doses of things like Haldol, Zyprexa, and Ativan. Misuse or overuse of Zyprexa can cause irreversible motor dysfunction. Haldol leads to severe complications in over half the people it’s given to, even when properly prescribed. The drugs are prescribed over the phone without examination or proper diagnosis, which is actually a criminal offense in IL; as is forcibly injecting psychotropic drugs except under a very specific set of circumstances, none of which are met at Cook County. At least three inmates have died from overdoses of or side effects from these medications.