Teamsters Fight Poor, Degraded Working and Living Conditions in Cook County Jail
(CHICAGO) – During the most extreme heat wave the City of Chicago has seen in over 100 years, Officers at the Cook County Department of Corrections were doing their best to stay cool and keep the facility safe, despite no air conditioning and unsanitary conditions.
Time and time again, officers have protested the poor working and living conditions inside Cook County Jail, where temperatures can easily break 90 degrees in the summer months. This extreme heat, combined with unsanitary conditions and outbreaks of bedbugs, leaves both Officers and inmates at a serious risk for heat exhaustion and disease. The department has also been quietly cutting Officers over the past month to reduce overtime costs, exposing officers to increased dangers on the tiers and setting the stage for inmates to attack each other.
A recent report in a Chicago newspaper inaccurately reported “malfunctioning” air conditioning in the Pre-Release Center, when there are actually no air conditioners in the unit. In other units, where there is air conditioning, the units are breaking down due to the extreme heat over the past few weeks.
Extreme fatigue and dangerous conditions will result in increased duty injuries for Officers and may raise concerns for the Department of Justice monitor as it relates to inmate conditions, both of which will negatively impact the Sheriff’s and County budget if left to continue.
With the County looking to manage an already under-funded budget, how can the Sheriff’s Department and the membership be expected to work in such conditions? It is a recipe for disaster.