Cook County Jail in Chicago is out of control

The forces of law and order no longer control the streets of Chicago.  Heck, they can't even control inmates in the jail.  Civil order is collapsing.  We learn that once incarcerated, the inmates are controlling the Cook County Jail and engaging in mass behavior so vile that public defenders are refusing to enter and meet their clients.

What follows is so disgusting that readers are cautioned to proceed only if psychologically able to face repulsive information.

Andy Grimm reports in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Masturbating inmates have become a common sight on the walk to and from holding cells where defense attorneys meet clients, and at the jail and in courthouse lockups. Last week, in a letter to Chief Judge Timothy Evans, Public Defender Amy Campanelli said her staff has reached a breaking point.

Amy Campanelli (Rich Hein, Sun-Times).

Campanelli declined to share a copy of the letter, but confirmed that she warned the judge that her staff won't visit the jail starting Nov. 6 unless he or Sheriff Tom Dart can offer up a solution.

A spokesman for Evans said Campanelli will have a chance to speak at a regularly scheduled judges' meeting that day.

"There have always been these incidents since I became a public defender," said Campanelli, who has been in the office for more than a decade. "But it's never been like it is today, where it's like the behavior we're seeing now, every day, or every other day. It's just become pervasive. We've tried everything."

Campanelli – who lauded Dart's efforts to combat the phenomenon – said nothing has worked. Her office provided a timeline dating back to October 2015, detailing attempts to deal with an increasing number of incidents. In letter obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, Campanelli wrote to Dart in March, describing it as a "crisis" and calling for guards to be assigned to every lockup in the criminal courthouse.

"Of late, it has become a daily occurrence," she wrote. "Male detainees constantly expose themselves and masturbate while in the lockup behind the courtrooms."

The sheriff's policy director, Cara Smith, naturally minimizes the situation: "This is something that happens in custodial environments, period[.]" 

But Grimm notes:

No other jail seems to have the same problem with public indecency on a similar scale to Cook County, according to the state Public Defenders Association and the Illinois Sheriffs' Association. Smith said there seems to be no reason for the number of incidents, other than a bizarre sense of nihilism among a relative handful of the 7,000-plus detainees at the jail. Attempts to stop it have met mixed results – in part because of resistance from individual public defenders and Campanelli herself, according to Smith.

The public defenders are caught on the horns of a dilemma, because the sheriff has supported legislation that would heighten the penalties for indecent exposure in jails to a felony, a move the P.D.s oppose:

Campanelli said that, on principle, public defenders couldn't support legislation that upgraded a misdemeanor to a felony. Female staffers say they face a similar dilemma when deciding whether to press charges after one of their clients pulls out his penis. The additional charges add potential jail time for their clients, and forces defenders to hand off the case to another attorney.

According a Facebook post cited by the Second City Cop blog, an attempt was made to offer a pizza party in return for halting the offensive behavior, but:

Dart tried to negotiate a pizza deal with the inmates and the next day they did a circle jerk around one of his female Directors. The Illinois Sheriff and Public Defenders say no other prison in the country has this sexual assault/masturbation problem. Way to go Sheriff. 

It went as far as negotiating with pizza in a div 9 tier asking [them] to promise not to masturbate after a pizza party, next day they all masturbated in front of a director, they formed a circle around her and did a jerk circle around her. jailguards warned her and asked to escort her, she felt confident that the pizza from the night before was going to stop the jerking off. she trusted the inmates[.]

If public defenders refuse to enter the jail starting next Monday, no doubt there will be "civil liberties" lawyers charging that the inmates' right to counsel is being denied.  But if inmate behavior rises to the level of criminality that repels counsel, then who is violating whose rights?

For the moment, the sheriff is spending $40,000 a week in overtime to have extra monitors of inmates.

But this is a problem that money can't solve.  Inmates have lost all respect for civil society and all fear of punishment, and that is part of the larger problem of the breakdown in civil order in Chicago, on its way to becoming America's first third-world City.  

Hat tip: Peter von Buol