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Dart to Pritzker: Pick up the phone

Wednesday, Jul 1, 2020

* Sun-Times

With little room to spare at Cook County Jail, Sheriff Tom Dart is seeking a court order to compel the state to take custody of inmates who had been housed at the jail since the coronavirus outbreak.

The Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, which Dart is a member of, filed the motion Thursday in downstate Logan County asking a circuit court judge to approve a preliminary injunction that would order the state to accept inmates who are housed in county jails, but should be in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

These inmates — unlike detainees at the jail who are awaiting trial — have been convicted and sentenced.

Some of these inmates served their sentences but need to to be transferred to IDOC custody before their release. […]

Concerns voiced by Dart’s office and other sheriffs have been “met with silence” from state officials, [Dart spokesman Matthew Walberg] added. Governor and IDOC officials weren’t immediately available for comment Wednesday.

I get what the state is doing here, but at the very least, IDOC ought to accept inmates who have completed their sentences so they can be released.

* Meanwhile, speaking of the county jail, here’s Karen Sheley, Director, Police Practices Project, ACLU of Illinois…

[Chicago Police] Superintendent Brown’s announced plan to address gun violence during the long holiday weekend is more of the same. The plan to sweep up Black and Brown young men in their neighborhoods across the City could have been uttered by a number of his predecessors in leadership of the CPD. We have heard this all before—paternalistic claims that young men should be in jail for their own safety.

This approaches only further drive a wedge between the CPD and communities of color. The Superintendent again offers the dangerous suggestion that time in Cook County Jail is for these young people’s own good. This is a terrible idea in the best of times – in the midst of a pandemic, it could be a death sentence for these young men or members of their family on release.

* And

The day after her husband died on Easter Sunday, Cassandra Greer-Lee’s emotions swung from shock to pain to confusion. She wondered whether she did everything she could to save Nickolas Lee from the rapid spread of coronavirus inside Cook County Jail.

She thought of the long stream of calls she had frantically dialed over the past few weeks as Cook County Jail rapidly cemented itself as the “largest-known source” of coronavirus cases in the U.S.

Scrolling through her calls, the numbers ballooned from 60 to 70 to 90 to 100 to finally 132 calls made to the sheriff’s office, a jail sergeant’s desk line, the jail hospital and others to alert them to the spread of coronavirus on Lee’s tier—almost all were unanswered.

Lee was the third of seven detainees who have died after contracting the virus at Cook County Jail. Since then, almost 1,000 Cook County Jail employees and detainees have tested positive for COVID-19; two corrections officers and one court deputy have also died, according to WTTW. Like 98 percent of inmates at Cook County Jail, Lee was awaiting trial. He had been charged by the county for gun possession after violating federal parole.

* Related…

* Pritzker’s coronavirus rules get under county sheriffs’ skin: “We work so hard to keep the jail population down,” said Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman. Pritzker’s order “has hindered our ability to be flexible.”

* Layoffs, tax hikes possible as Cook County braces for one-two punch of budget holes for this year and the next

* Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart ‘De-Deputizes’ Deputies Linked To Insults And Threats Toward Protesters

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - drudge - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:48 pm:

    “Open air drug markets”.. Been trying to stop the supply for a long time. Time to try something different? #endthedrugwar. All of it. Where do you think racialized policing is coming from?

  2. - Excitable Boy - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:06 pm:

    - Some of these inmates served their sentences but need to to be transferred to IDOC custody before their release. […] -

    This is unreal. These people need to be released immediately, and next session a law needs to be passed to eliminate this nonsense red tape.

  3. - 1st Ward - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:18 pm:

    The ACLU and certain Chicago politicians are politicizing what Superintendent Brown said on Monday. His point during the Q&A session was kids need mentorship and a path to opportunity which needs to be addressed through the community, corporate, city council, the mayor and state government. At no point did he say take away due process. He said multiple times he is not advocating for mass incarceration and CPD can’t arrest its way out of the problem.

    In addition to politicians not supporting/passing legislation to provide youth more opportunity and a better education he is not receiving adequate support from States Attorney’s office when people are arrested for having unregistered weapons or are violent offenders. He specifically mentioned the case of Laroy Battle who is accused of shooting and killing two teenagers on June 20. Laroy was arrested and convicted of an unregistered weapon offense 18 months prior and only received probation. If society is fine with only probation; probation needs to be augmented with community service, mentorship, educational, and job training opportunities. When its only probation that individual is going back to the same environment with the same lack of choices and the cycle repeats.

    Further, David Brown continuously mentioned that the courts are still shut-down so when they arrest someone for a UUW (unlawful unregistered weapon) they are of course innocent until proven guilty but are quickly let back out onto the streets with no court date. The county ran out of ankle monitors due to jail releases during covid (not sure if this is still the case) and there is a lack of monitoring of the ankle monitors by the city/county.

    Sure he might sound like a broken record but he is one part of the cog in the criminal justice system wheel and is asking for help from other “leaders” within the city. The end-to-end process needs serious review and better oversight including CPD as nothing seems to be changing for the better.

    I would advise anyone who read my long-winded posting/rant go to youtube and watch his press conference from the 15/16 minute period from Monday (Q&A session) where he goes into detail on this. Compare it to what ACLU and certain city council members are saying. They are taking one sentence and providing no context to the full statement.

    Last thought, Kim Lightfoot the Senate Majority Leader, the first Black Senate Majority Leader in State history on the 7th called on the Governor saying “Governor we need a slice” and wanting him to address gun violence. The Governor marches in a protest but remains silent in advocating or providing meaningful solutions. Madigan and Harmon say and do nothing. More of the same. Good job by the Sun Times calling this out as well:

  4. - Pelonski - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:56 pm:

    In my view, the Governor’s office is too focused on getting laws passed and doesn’t spend enough time making sure the agencies are run well. Getting laws passed is important, but administering them efficiently is equally as important. That being said, he is better than the last three governors who did neither.

  5. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 3:21 pm:

    No one is taking what Chief Brown said out of context.

    His plan is to round up as many Black and Latino youth as he can over the next couple of days and hold them in jail for an extended period of time in a prophylactic attempt to improve his numbers.

    This is all about making himself look better at the expenseof due process, and it is unlawful.

  6. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 3:45 pm:

    “… doesn’t spend enough time making sure the agencies are run well.”
    Last Governor to fully do that? Jim Edgar. Ryan did some good, but was preoccupied. Rod Blagojevich hid from bad news whilst his patronage minions broke the law brazenly enough to attract federal prosecutor interest. And John Filan engaged in schemes that seemingly were a cross between Milo Minderbinder and Ponzi. Quinn, unless media interest existed, schemed to force state employees into early retirement to reduce headcount (SERS Class of May 2012) or hire his patronage army (staff assistants). Rauner? Others here are much more eloquent as to the damage caused. Pritzker has had to deal with the worst public health crisis since the Spanish Flu. Jim Edgar avoided the old Chinese curse - “May you live in interesting times.”

  7. - M - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 4:12 pm:

    Have all the prison guards and prisoners in every Illinois prison been tested for COVID-19 yet? If no, they cannot transfer them until the prisons are all clear of the virus.

  8. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 4:58 pm:

    The Suntimes opinion article on the Peotone airport was really bad, hyperbolic and stretching reality to the point where it’s unrecognizable. I’m not familiar with Phil Kadnor. Maybe he had indigestion or something?

    Amazon is already using Northern Kentucky International Airport for air. It needs roads and rail. And there’s Gary and Rockford. Why build an airport when you have an airport an hour away?

    Then Kadnor slams Gary Airport. Why? Aren’t we all Americans? Why not help Gary? What did Gary do to you Phil?

    Then Kadnor says “ Illinois refused to build a casino in the south suburbs despite pleas from community leaders,”
    Another casino? Yuk. So disposable income that would have gone to local merchants goes there instead? The casino economics makes no sense. Casinos don’t really help economies. They just take money that would have been spent locally.

    Kadner goes on: “Northwest Indiana has flourished while Chicago and Illinois political leaders did nothing. That’s odd unless you understand how self-destructive racism can be .”

    Getting an airport nobody wants, neither the airlines, nor Amazon, nor the people of Illinois, will not help replace factories silenced by global trade. Blaming this on racism is just dumb.

  9. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 5:02 pm:

    ===stretching reality===

    He also wrote that Pritzker was silent on the issue when Pritzker was actually at the press conference that he wrote about.


    Good times.

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