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The [Friday] Papers

We all knew that the Cook County Jail was a hellhole, but the news this morning reminds me of an editor at the beginning of my career who used to advise reporters that "It's always ten times worse than you think." Too many reporters get thrown off the scent too soon. "Keep going," ought to be the reporting rule of thumb.

So now comes this.

"In a scathing report released Thursday, federal authorities said that a culture exists at Cook County Jail in which inmates are systematically beaten by guards and medical care is so substandard that some inmates have died," the Tribune reports.

"The report detailed numerous incidents in which guards used excessive force in response to verbal insults, failures by inmates to follow instructions or violence against jail staff. Inmates have been punched, stomped, choked and struck with objects, often by multiple officers, suffering black eyes, broken jaws, loosened teeth, fractured noses and ribs, and head trauma, the report said."

That might sound like run-of-the mill jail stuff, but it gets worse.

"In July 2007, a mentally ill inmate who exposed himself to a female corrections officer was taken to a clothing room where a group of guards handcuffed and beat him, leaving him with severe head injuries, the report said. In August 2006, a stabbing of a guard set off a mass beating of inmates in retaliation, an incident under federal investigation.

"The report said the jail's intake area for inmates was particularly plagued with problems. In one alleged incident, guards in May 2006 beat an inmate so severely for refusing to obey orders that he needed to be taken to a trauma center and placed on a respirator."

It gets worse.

"In early 2006, a female inmate died of an untreated infection that was a common complication of HIV, investigators found. She went untreated for weeks despite an abnormal X-ray that identified a problem, the report said.

"In an August 2006 case, an inmate's leg was amputated because of a bone infection improperly treated at the jail. In late 2006, another inmate died of sepsis after a jail staffer failed to take him to an appointment for post-operative care for a gunshot wound, the report said.

Bear in mind that many Cook County inmates are simply awaiting trial - like this example used by the Trib, they haven't been found guilty of anything.

Dart Board
"They have completely ignored all the positive things we've done and painted a picture that is in no way accurate and is horribly disappointing," said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who oversees the jail. "At the end of the day, I find it to be horribly unprofessional."

At the end of the day, "horribly unprofessional" is that last way I would describe U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, whose office conducted the investigation and wrote the report.

Corruption Tax
"Lack of money, Fitzgerald said, isn't an excuse," the Sun-Times reports. "'We pay more taxes here than anywhere in the country," Fitzgerald said. "It can't be the only county in the country that can't afford to have a jail that satisfies constitutional standards.'"

Clout Kids
In response to the second part of Dane Placko's "Clout Kids" series, "How Cook County Insiders Get Their Kids On The Payroll," a poor, young African-American woman contacted Placko and described how she attempted in vain to find a summer job. That part I can't find on the atrocious Fox Chicago website. But it got me to thinking about how employment is the best crime-fighting strategy - and how Barack Obama is lecturing the wrong people about morality and character.

Gov. Baloneyvich
Welcome to Rod's World, chief!

"Weis questioned why the State Police have yanked other assistance from Chicago," the Sun-Times reports.

"Weis also said he wished the governor would back the city's push for stronger state gun control laws."

Finally, Weis told the governor that his mouth was out of control and he'd be glad to send assistance.

The Daley Show
"Mayor Daley told the media that he was 'excited' about the Department of Revenue's new $14,000 cameras, and that it took him a long time to find the right vendor for the job, but that a 'buddy' from Bridgeport 'knows a guy.'"

- Kevin Robinson, Chicagoist

Beyond The Satire
"About the only Chicagoan who comes out looking good in Ryan Lizza's recent New Yorker profile of Barack Obama (yeah, it's in the issue with the cover) is Fourth Ward alderman Toni Preckwinkle," Ben Joravsky writes.

Favorite coach, Ditka
Vacation place, 'sconsin
Sausage, Johnson
Chicken, Swanson's


The Beachwood Tip Line: Nobody sent us.


Posted on July 18, 2008

MUSIC - December In Chicago Drill.
TV - Don't Weaken Media Ownership Limits.
POLITICS - Another SRO Crisis.
SPORTS - TrackNotes: Mom.

BOOKS - How Stereo Was Sold To A Skeptical Public.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicago Footwork King's Bail Battle.

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