Federal Monitoring Ends At Cook County Jail
The Cook County Jail is no longer under federal monitoring after a federal judge lifted a consent decree.
A 2008 Department of Justice report found the jail had failing grades for detainee safety, medical care and cleanliness. This led to a consent decree in 2010 with a federal judge overseeing conditions. Since that time, the jail has invested millions improving safety by adding cameras, hiring more correctional officers and enhancing its medical care.
"It was not easy," said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. "It was a lot of work to get there, and it was very expensive as well. We’ve turned what was a jail that had a lot of issues and a lot of consent decrees into one that is now considered a model for the country."
Late last week, a federal judge ended monitoring --- saying the jail is meeting all standards for inmate safety.
The Chicago-based John Howard Association served as the court- appointed monitor of the jail until 2009. Director Jennifer Vollen-Katz says court monitoring helped improve conditions there greatly. However, she worries the lack of continued oversight may hinder that progress.
"You can’t really have accountability without transparency," she said. "Corrections by definition is a closed system. So we have to work hard to create that transparency and push for that accountability."